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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Lady Bulldog softball tops Valencia 5-1

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Lady Bulldog shortstop Alexa Riggs fires to first for an out during the second inning Saturday at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

With members of the very first Lady Bulldog softball team – and first state championship team, as well – in the stands, the Artesia High School girls logged a quality Class 5A win over Valencia Saturday at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex.

The top-ranked Lady ‘Dogs defeated the No. 4 Lady Jaguars 5-1 to improve to 10-2 on the season with just two pre-district games remaining on their slate.

“I thought we did a good job,” head coach Sandra Pulido said Saturday. “We had trouble with some of the things we’ve been talking about the last few weeks, like leaving baserunners on, but we’re definitely improving and getting smarter on the bases.

“Coach (Jeff) Young does a really good job with his program, so it was definitely good competition for us, especially as we start to close out our pre-district games.”

The girls in orange jumped out to an early lead in the contest, taking two runs out of the bottom of the first inning on a Kali Crandall RBI triple that bounced just inside the third-base line, then away from the Valencia left-fielder, and a wild pitch.

Senior starter Crandall seated the Lady Jags in order over the course of their next two at-bats, but the Lady Bulldogs were having some problems of their own adjusting to the pitching of Valencia sophomore Julie Logan.

Crandall and Adrianna Baeza were able to string together a pair of hits in the home half of the third, however, Baeza’s a double that plated Crandall and put Artesia up 3-0 before a solo homer by Lady Jaguar leadoff Alexis Vigil in the top of the fourth made it 3-1.

The Lady Bulldogs would answer in the bottom of the inning with two more runs on a two-RBI single by Gracie Puentes, and Crandall and her defense were able to hold Valencia at bay through the remainder of the bout despite a two-on, one-out situation in the sixth.

Crandall allowed just five hits on the day while striking out seven and was 2-3 at the plate with a triple and one RBI. Baeza was also 2-3 with a double and one run batted in. Logan took the loss for Valencia with seven hits and 10 strikeouts through six complete.

The Lady Bulldogs also recognized their seniors Saturday, which include Crandall, Baeza, Puentes, Kacey Thurman, Alexa Riggs, Stacia Martinez and Elisa Cardenas.

“We did well on defense today behind Kali, and it was really good to see all seven seniors out there on the field together today,” said Pulido. “I don’t know if we’ve had that with this group, just because of the positions they play, but it was good to se the chemistry they had on defense.

“They worked well together, and it was nice to see the way they meshed.”

Prior to the contest, the 2018 Lady Bulldogs escorted the attending members of the 1988 Artesia High School softball team onto the field to be honored in the 30th anniversary year of both the official incorporation of the sport into AHS and the program’s first state title.

The first pitch was thrown out by 1988 All-State MVP Mykol Williams Horner, now secretary at AHS.

“It’s humbling to know the origins of the program,” said Pulido. “Because of their persistence, we’re able to do what we’re doing today.”

The Lady ‘Dogs will close out their 2018 regular season Tuesday with a 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. double header against Portales at The Mack. That evening will also serve as AGSA Appreciation Night.

“The younger players do look up to our girls, so it’s nice to give them the opportunity to step on the field with them,” Pulido said.

As far as what she’ll be looking for from her athletes against the Ramettes, maintaining their focus and level of play top the list.

“We just want to stay up and play our game,” said the coach. “I haven’t seen a whole lot of Portales, but from last year and what I’ve heard from other coaches, they’re scrappy. And that’s something we have to be able to deal with, because we’re going to see those type of teams once we get to the state tournament.

“Like I said last week, teams are coming with their A game because of what they’ve heard and what we have done in the past, so they’re going to give us a run for our money and we just have to be ready to execute on both offense and defense.”

Artesia will kick off District 4-AAAAA play Friday with a double dip against Roswell High on the road.

Brienne Green
Daily Press Editor

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