By Dave Wagner
Maybe things are finally clicking for Clovis High’s softball team.
Veteran coach Brandi Thomas thinks so.
The Lady Wildcats got two solid pitching efforts from junior A.J. Wright and played good overall defense throughout in a 2-1, 7-0 sweep of Sandia on Saturday at Lady Wildcat Field.
Clovis (7-9) begins District 4-5A play with a pair of games on Tuesday at Hobbs, and has a rugged finishing stretch to the regular season. In addition to home-and-home district twin bills with the Lady Eagles and Carlsbad, CHS will also be at home next Saturday for a pair of games against Portales.
“No complaints,” said Thomas, whose team has strung together five wins in its last six outings. “We played well all the way around and did a lot of things right.”
Wright kept the Matadors (7-8) in check the whole game, and may have been helped by the fact Sandia generally swung early in the count. Wright needed 74 pitches in the opener and just 63 in Game 2, including a stretch of only eight pitches to seven hitters — two singles, five outs.
“It was a really good feeling,” Wright said of the sweep. “I think our team is finally putting everything together.”
The Lady Cats broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning of the opener. Kyleigh Guthals singled and later scored on a single by Wright. With Wright at third and Ashley Gallagher breaking off first and getting in a rundown, Wright scored the second run as Gallagher was being tagged out.
The Matadors got their lone run of the day — of the unearned variety — in the fifth when Ariana Velasquez, on with a one-out single, scored on a two-out outfield error. Wright finished with four strikeouts and no walks.
She also walked no one in the second game and didn’t have a strikeout, either, until she caught freshman pitcher Jenai Hernandez looking on a 3-2 pitch to start the seventh. There simply weren’t that many deep counts.
“A.J. did a good job,” Thomas said. “She’s been asked to play a hard hand (by handling most of the pitching duties, and now her defense is finally playing well behind her.”
Leading just 2-0 entering the fifth, Clovis tacked on two in that inning and three in the sixth.
“Having those extra runs definitely gets rid of some of the pressure,” Wright said.
The Matadors’ defense let down big-time in the nightcap, committing six errors. Runs scored on five of the miscues, and another came home on a passed ball.
Senior center fielder Andrea Aguilar had the only RBI, driving a triple to left-center in the sixth and continuing home on a botched relay.
Clovis outhit the Matadors 9-5 in the opener and 8-6 in Game 2. Aguilar had a pair of hits in each game, finishing the day 4-for-7.