Aztec softball team looking to buck trend with state championship win

RIO RANCHO, N.M.

The Aztec Lady Tigers reached their fifth consecutive state championship game on Friday.

On a not-so-good note, the Tigers have come up short the last four times so this year’s team has some unfinished business to take care of.

“It’s my senior year and I am tired of getting second,” Aztec ace Paige Adair said. “I really want to win one. This team has a whole different mindset this year.”

Aztec will play will play No. 2 Artesia for the Class 5A crown at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday at Lobo Field on the University of New Mexico campus.

On Friday, the Tigers defeated Artesia 3-2 in the state semifinals to reach the championship game in a pitcher’s duel between Adair and Lady Bulldog ace Kali Crandall.

Artesia earned a rematch with Aztec by working its way through the loser’s bracket. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Alamogordo, 2-0, in the final game on Friday in the double elimination bracket.

“They are a good ball club,“ Aztec coach Roy Johnson said of Artesia. “They got good pitching and they play well but our kids are on a mission. They want to win a state championship. They have taken the red trophy four times and that is not much fun anymore.”

After two scoreless innings, Aztec got on the scoreboard first with shortstop CheyAnne Simpkins hitting a solo homer with two outs in the third.

The Tigers plated another run in the fourth with Adair leading off the inning with a single. Courtesy runner Alanna Larkins took over and she reached second on a passed ball. Two batters later, Larkins scored on a RBI single by third baseman Jocelyn Ulrich.

Aztec added an insurance run in the fifth with first baseman Sarrah Jones scoring on a nicely place bloop by catcher Kylie Brown for a 3-0 lead.

After stranding seven runners in the first five innings, Artesia finally got one through in the sixth when leadoff hitter Aubree Olguin crossed home plate on a RBI double from third baseman Gabrielle Gomez.

In the seventh, Artesia put some pressure on Adair with shortstop Alexa Riggs scoring with one out on a single by Crandall, who went 4-for-4 at the plate.

Adair then used her defense behind her to close out the win.

“This team was relentless,” Adair said of Artesia. “I had to focus on their entire lineup and their pitcher was hitting all my stuff so I had to go right at her and trust my defense.”

Adair surrendered two runs on seven hits and finished the game with 10 strikeouts.

“Paige was just Paige,” Johnson said. “She continued to battle. She is tough as there is. You can’t do much better than Paige Adair.”

The Tigers collected eight hits on Crandall as she pitched six innings and gave up three runs while striking out four.

“It’s crazy because that girl can pitch,” said Johnson.


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Categories: Baseball
Tags: Lady Tigers

About Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at
qjodie@navajotimes.com