N.M. Class 2A softball

Rehoboth struggle in back-to-back games, eliminated by eventual champs

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

ALBUQUERQUE, May 23, 2013

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(Times photo – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Rehoboth's Leah Rae Francisco misses the ball as it goes past her at the New Mexico Class 1A-2A state softball tournament on May 17 in Rio Rancho, N.M.

SECOND FROM TOP: Rehoboth's Mariah Miller (7) pitches the ball on May 17 in Rio Rancho, N.M.

I t was not a fair fight to begin with.

But under the circumstances, the Rehoboth softball team did what they could before exiting the New Mexico Class 1A-2A state tournament on May 16, losing to Loving, the eventual state champs.

Loving pushed across nine runs in the bottom of the fifth and run-ruled the worn-out Lynx with a 17-0 win.

"There is nothing to be ashamed of," Rehoboth coach Allen West said. "We played a team that plays softball year around as opposed to a majority of our girls. We don't have summer league like they do and our girls commit themselves to three months of playing softball but the improvements they have made in those three months are astronomical.

"We had a great season and we improved from last year," he added. "We finished in third place and it took a lot of perseverance."

On the final day of the tournament Rehoboth played four games including three back-to-back games, as they were visibly exhausted while playing the top-seeded team for the second time.

"I hate to say anything bad about the NMAA but if you want to be your best and you want to see the best you have to schedule games accordingly," West said. "Playing four games in one day is tough for any team to overcome. That was what we faced today."

West also would like the morning games that were scheduled at 8 a.m. to be pushed back later in the day, preferably to the evening.

"I think it's better for the players and fans," he said. "If they can schedule the games in the evening it'll make things a little more enjoyable."

The Lynx, who garnered the No. 4 seed, opened the tournament with two wins before they lost to Loving, 10-3, which sent them into the elimination bracket.

Rehoboth then posted a 15-14 come-from-behind win over No. 3 seed Navajo Prep.

"It was really intense but it was a lot of fun," Rehoboth outfielder Mariah Miller said of their game with Prep. "I'm glad that we came back like the way we did, especially after losing to them for the district title."

During the season, the Lynx relied on Miller as their ace pitcher but during the latter part of the season she lost her form. Since then, senior Kristen James has picked up the slack.

"I've been struggling since the district championship," Miller said. "I couldn't find the zone anymore but Kristen really pulled us through the tournament. I am so proud of the way she played especially when I couldn't do it."

James, who pitched the entire game against Prep, said that win helped boost their confidence as they carried over that momentum against Jal in the next round.

"It was an awesome feeling because we split with Prep," James said. "It proved that we are a good team."

In their matchup with Jal, the Lynx were up 8-4 heading into the top of seventh but for a brief moment they let their guard down as the Lady Panthers plated three runs to pull within, 8-7.

"We made some errors and that (was a test of) how bad we wanted to win," James said. "It took a lot of discipline to get those things fixed."

Errors, however, were not the cause of Rehoboth's exit in the next round. Instead it was mental and physical fatigue that played a role as the Lynx fell behind early against Loving.

"It was definitely a struggle to get here," Miller said of their fourth game. "I wished the game ended differently because we were exhausted. But I am proud of how far we got."

Miller said she's hoping that the returning letterman will remember this experience and use it.

"It took a lot of heart and dedication to get here," she said. "I want to see these girls mature because most of them are freshmen and eighth graders."

Besides Miller and James, the Lynx will also be losing Benita Harry and Hailey Begay to graduation this year.

"We are losing a lot of experience right there," West said. "They are going to be hard to replace but hopefully we can build on this with the girls we got coming back."

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