Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Gallup softball team heads area’s all-state selections

Gallup softball team heads area’s all-state selections

By Santiago Ramos Jr.
Special to the Times

GRANTS – Two state titles and two state runners-up in the last four years, along with an unbeaten 30-0 district record with three district titles the last three years.

That’s a pretty impressive resume for the Gallup Lady Bengals softball team.

Gallup softball team heads area’s all-state selections

Navajo Times | Quentin Jodie
Aztec pitcher Kamora Henry was selected to second-team, all-state by the NMHSCA.

To cap off its second state Class 4A trophy, Gallup had five players earn all-state softball honors – four of them for the all-state first team.

Four seniors—second baseman Brenna Becenti, pitcher Seniah Haines, center fielder Victoria Zarate, and catcher Jazmine Marrufo—were named to the Class 4A all-state first team.

Sophomore utility player Madison Martinez was named to the all-state second team.

Top seed Gallup (24-6) lost to No. 5 Artesia 1-0 in the first state finals game. In the if-needed winner-take-all game in the double-elimination state tournament, the Lady Bengals cruised to a convincing 7-1 victory over the 24-9 Lady Bulldogs to hoist their second state championship trophy.

Second-year Gallup head coach William Haines said that with the recent success at state the last four years, the orange- and-black clad Lady Bengals have been gaining respect playing against the top teams in the state.

“Gallup is getting respected by teams at state,” Haines said. “Gallup is a basketball town and softball is starting to get big, also. There are more girls playing softball in Gallup because of the success Gallup softball has had. I believe that Gallup can become a powerhouse. The girls have put in the work and understand what it takes to be state champions. Gallup has been to the state championship finals for the last four years. Two state championships and two state runners-up is a start.”

Haines, who was an assistant coach for two years before taking over the head coaching reins two years ago, was blessed with an experienced senior-laden squad this season.

“We had 10 seniors this year and when they lost the state championship last year those players said they would be back this year and win the state championship,” he said. “These girls had been playing with each other since they were 9-10 years old, especially the seniors. We had a lot of experience this year with 16 players returning out of 18 from last year and most of them were part of the (state) run since 2021.”

Second baseman Becenti, who is a three-time first team all-state, was a solid player offensively (.368 batting average) and defensively at second base.

“She was our speedster,” Haines said. “She hit for power, slap and bunt. She caused havoc on the basepaths. She was a very great second baseman and covered a lot of ground.”

Senior five-year varsity ace pitcher Haines, who is four-time first team all-state, as well as four-time District MVP, was dominant on the mound with a sparkling 1.30 ERA with 52 wins the past two seasons along with 551 strikeouts. She also had a .505 batting average with seven home runs and 11 doubles her senior year.

“She’s been our ace pitcher since her freshman year,” her dad said. “She pitched most of the games in her high school career and also pitched every state game since her freshman year. She led the team in hitting this year. She’s got it done defensively and offensively.”

Center fielder Zarate, her coach said, was a team player.

“She has a great attitude,” Haines said of Zarate, who owned a .411 batting average. “She’s pretty fast as well and covers a lot of ground. Hitting-wise, her on-base percentage is up there.”

Catcher Marrufo, who had an impressive 0.983 fielding percentage and a .345 batting average, logged a lot of games behind the plate for the Lady Bengals.

“We had her at catcher because of her speed, quick throwing release, being very vocal. Hitting-wise she did whatever was needed. When we needed a sac bunt she got the job done. She hit a lot of line drives.”

Sophomore utility player Martinez, who had a .402 batting average, was Gallup’s all-around player.

“She can do it all,” Haines said. “She mostly played outfield and she caught the last out to win the state championship. She is also one of our pitchers, catchers and also plays infield. Hitting-wise her OBP (on-base percentage) was up there, too. She had lots of RBIs.”

Haines praised his sophomore third baseman/pitcher Morgan Belone, who had a .364 batting average.

“She got a lot of key outs during state,” Haines said. “She’s one of our top players at the cleanup spot. She’s a great defensive player.”

Haines credited the strong support that his program has received.

“I think so much of our success was about the parents, guardians, and siblings who had shaped this group of young ladies,” Haines said. “Our first teacher and coach will always be our parents. Also our players putting in the work. Most of the players play travel softball for Gallup and Albuquerque travel teams so they get lots of reps and experience. As coaches we don’t mind that. We have a saying “A better you, is a better us.” The players are the ones who make plays. Also our success is the other coaches that coach these players. Last but not least is our Gallup Bengal fans. Thank you for always supporting us and being the No. 1 fans in the state.”

Haines was assisted by varsity assistant coach Adrian Marrufo, along with assistants Chris Belone, Filmer Martinez, John Greene and Maria Marrufo.

Losing 10 seniors off this year’s championship team, Haines said next year’s team will have to put in the hard work to match the recent success.

“For us to be successful next year is to work hard,” he said. “We know that the way we won state this year is not the way we’re going to win it again. We’ll have a new team, a new year, and a new season. We have to adapt to the game because every year is different, and we have to be smart about success by staying humble and hungry.”

Area all-state players

Class 5A
Jadyn Jones – Farmington – first team outfielder
Brookelynn Cadrain – Piedra Vista – second team infield
Landry Bales – Piedra Vista – second team outfielder

Class 4A
Brenna Becenti – Gallup – first team infielder
Seniah Haines – Gallup – first team pitcher
Victoria Zarate – Gallup – first team outfielder
Jazmine Marrufo – Gallup – second team catcher
Madison Martinez – Gallup – second team outfielder
Kamora Henry – Aztec – second team pitcher
Alayna Vidal – Miyamura – second team first base

Class 3A
Isabella Galvan – Santa Fe Indian – second team pitcher

Class 1A-2A
Sage West – Rehoboth Christian – second team infielder
Cayleen Hurley – Rehoboth Christian – second team outfielder
Deiyanera Franklin – Rehoboth Christian – second team pitcher
Savannah Suazo – Laguna Acoma – second team pitcher
Amaya Joe – Laguna Acoma – second team outfielder
Brianna Filmer – Laguna Acoma – second team infielder


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