Gallup softball unable to defend state crown
By Santiago Ramos Jr.
Special to the Navajo Times
Defending 4A state champs Gallup rallied in the top of the seventh but came up short in its bid for a repeat during the Class 4A state softball championships.
The 22-11 Lady Bengals, the No. 3 seed, fell to No. 2 and state powerhouse Silver, 3-2, Saturday at the UNM Softball Complex.
First-year Gallup head coach Williams Haines said being the defending state champs put pressure on the girls.
“This year is the first year Gallup has ever been defending champs,” Haines said. “So it was the first time they had a target on their back. We’ve always been the hunters and not the hunted. We’ve always been the underdogs.
“Being defending champs everybody wanted to beat us,” he added. “There was a lot of pressure. We worked hard. We got sent to the loser’s bracket and we had to win three games to get to the championship and we did that yesterday (Friday). We took out the No. 1 team (Artesia). That was a nice accomplishment. Artesia is a tough team. I want to congratulate Silver City for winning another state title. They’re a powerhouse.”
Haines, who will lose just two seniors out of 18 players, said that the tough preseason schedule helped the team in district and state play.
“We played a lot of tough teams,” he said. “We went down to Laughlin and played in that tournament and played the top teams down there. We played a lot of 5A teams and we played in the Rio Rancho tournament. It was a tough season but it got us ready. We had a great season. We’ll keep on going. We’ll go back to work. We’ll be back.”
The 27-4 Fighting Colts scored a single run in the first off Bengal junior starting pitcher Seniah Haines. But Gallup took the lead in the top of the second with a pair of runs. Lady Bengal junior Raeanna Chee knocked in one-run double just inside the third base bag.
Gallup blew a golden opportunity for a big inning in the top of the fourth.
Freshman Leia Tso walked, Chee singled and junior Victoria Karate was safe on a bunt single that loaded the bases with one out.
However, Silver got out of the jam as junior Jazmine Marrufo grounded to third base, which turned into a huge double play.
With the Silver third baseman forcing the out at third, the Colts competed the double play with the ball thrown home plate.
In the fifth, Gallup again had a chance to score runs but left two runners stranded.
Down 2-1, Silver got to Haines for two runs in the bottom of the sixth on a pair of infield singles.
In the top of the seventh, Haines singled with one out. Freshman Morgan Belone lined out to centerfield for the second out before Kaiel Blackgoat grounded out to second to end Gallup’s hopes for a repeat.
Haines went the distance and was the losing pitcher, giving up three runs on six hits. She struck out four and did not allow a walk but hit one batter.
Roybal was the winning pitcher, allowing two runs on six hits. She fanned six, walked two and hit one batter.
The 22-11 Lady Bengals shut out No. 6 Lovington 3-0 in the first round Thursday and then lost to No. 2 Silver 8-2. Gallup then strung together three wins on Friday, beating No. 12 Bloomfield, 8-2, defeating No. 6 Lovington and posting a 12-3 win over No. 1 Artesia.