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Lady ‘Dogs sweep Roswell High in district opener

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The Lady Bulldog softball team’s District 4-AAAAA-opening double header Friday in Roswell was something of a run-on sentence with an exclamation point at the end.

After taking two hours and 45 minutes – 20 minutes longer than the Bulldog baseball team’s first district bout against Goddard 40 miles down the road – to put the Lady Coyotes away in Game One, 14-5, the Artesia girls came back to make much shorter work of the girls in red in the nightcap, 18-0 in three innings.

That contest saw the Lady ‘Dogs put their power hitting on display, while the opener was more about manufacturing runs. But combined, they spelled a D4 sweep that moves top-ranked – in both 5A and the state – Artesia to 14-2 on the season, 2-0 in district play.

“We did a lot of the little things right last night,” head coach Sandra Pulido said Saturday. “We focused on hitting slower pitching and taking it to the right side of the field this week in practice, moving runners and doing things together as a team, and it definitely showed in both games.”

After a scoreless first, the Lady Bulldogs got on the board in the top of the second in Game One by way of an Elisa Cardenas RBI ground out and Stacia Martinez RBI fielder’s choice.

The Lady Coyotes were able to briefly take the lead in the bottom of the fourth on a Mikenzey Patterson single and a two-run base hit from Karissa Mesquita. But as Roswell struggled to find a rhythm amongst its youthful pitching – the team would spend the latter innings rotating freshman Valaree Manzanares with eighth-graders Leah Sanchez and Victoria Sandoval ­– the Lady ‘Dogs would take advantage, going up for good in the top of the fifth.

The girls in orange sent 12 to the plate in that half-inning, tacking six to their total on a double-steal, a bases-loaded walk and hit batter in the persons of Gabrielle Gomez and Cardenas respectively, RBI base hits by Martinez and Alexa Riggs, and an error.

Roswell tacked on a run in the home half of the fifth, and Artesia responded in kind in the top of the sixth to make it 9-4. The Lady Bulldogs then batted around again in the top of the seventh, going up by 10 on two bases-loaded walks, a Martinez single, a passed ball and an E.

With the Lady ‘Dogs’ own eighth-grader, Rylee Crandall, on in relief of starter Kacey Thurman in the bottom of the seventh, the Lady Coyotes managed one final run on a Sandoval double before the marathon came to a close, 11-5.

“We were down for an inning there, but then we found that fight in the fifth and put six runs on the board,” said Pulido. “It was definitely a team effort, and it was great to see the girl doing what they needed to do for the person in front of them and behind them.

“We were able to really utilize our speed in small ball. Lexie (Riggs) has been doing a really good job this season of reading the defense. She knows if they’re not moving to just use her speed and lay it down or, if they’re in her face, to blow it by them, and she’s gotten to the point where she knows in which situation to do what. It’s good when you have that speed and that confidence that if you give them a green light, they’re going to automatically do the small things they need to do to move a runner over.”

Riggs finished 3-4 on the game with two RBI, Gomez was 2-3 with one run batted in, and Martinez went 3-5 with three RBI.

Thurman took the win with nine hits and two earned runs allowed through five innings of work, striking out four and walking three.

The Lady ‘Dogs got the ball rolling early in Game Two, taking a pair out of the top of the first when Presley Skinner – aboard with a leadoff triple – joined Chanler Groves, who reached on an error, in crossing the plate on a Kali Crandall double.

Artesia then proceeded to blow the bout wide open in the top of the second, nearly running the order twice while racking up 11 runs.

Martinez would start the onslaught with a triple and logged a second three-bagger in her second trip to the plate in the at-bat, that one for one RBI. The inning also saw Skinner launch the first home run of her high-school career for three runs, Melody Payne post a RBI triple, Adrianna Baeza deliver a two-RBI double, and Gomez a double for one run batted in.

With the 10-run rule in hand, the Lady Bulldogs secured the added scores necessary to put a three-inning affair on the table in the third, logging five more on an error, a Riggs RBI base hit, and a Groves two-RBI single to center.

Starter Kali Crandall gave way to sister Rylee in the bottom of the third, and while Patterson led off with a double for the Lady Coyotes, the next three batters went down in order to close out the 18-0 win.

The senior Crandall gave up just a single hit, as well, through two innings, striking out five. At the plate, Skinner was 3-3 – and a double short of hitting for the cycle – with four RBI, Payne and Martinez both went 2-3 with a RBI apiece, Kali Crandall and Gomez were 1-2 with three RBI between them, and Groves was 2-4 with two runs batted in.

“We came out and just continued to roll over the adjustments we’d made in the first game into the second,” said Pulido. “We were hitting the ball to the right side, getting those timely hits. It was exciting to see Presley get her first home run, and it was just an exciting night for the team as a whole.

“You always have those few who shine a little bit, but these were two good team wins, and it was a lot of fun to be a part of.”

The Lady ‘Dogs outhit Roswell 27-12 on the night and committed four errors in the first game but none in the second behind solid pitching from both of their seniors.

“We really did well in the circle,” Pulido said. “Kacey seemed like she was struggling a little bit with the zone on some pitches, but she really was throwing well and hitting her spots, she just wasn’t getting them called. So it was tough on her mentally, but she knows how to make adjustments.

“Both she and Kali have been putting in the time with Coach Crandall, and they understand the different situations. They’re both good at what they do, but they also put in that time outside of practice to be where they are right now. And now that we have Rylee able to come in and close things out, it’s a good situation for us, and it’s been fun to see the three of them work together in the circle.”

The Lady Bulldogs will now prepare to host their first district home games at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. Tuesday against Goddard (6-7).

“They have a new coach this year, and she’s mentioned they have a lot of girls out,” Pulido said. “But they’re really young, so she’s in a rebuilding year.”

Brienne Green
Daily Press Editor

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