The Belen high school softball team got off to a rocky start this season with three-straight losses. But the Lady Eagles seem to be getting back on track after winning their next two games, including a nail-biting 5-4 win in eight innings over the visiting Rio Grande Ravens of Saturday.
Each team had a four-run inning in the game, which was tied 4-4 at the end of seven. And in the eighth, the Eagles were able to score the one run that counted the most.
Senior Miriah Salas drove in the winning run with a ground ball to shortstop that scored Brandi Dearing from third base.
Salas’ mother, and Lady Eagle head coach, Nettie Salas said the Eagles played a good game from start to finish.
“It was definitely an improvement,” she said. “We were looking to go out and play a complete game, and the girls played hard every inning.”
Eighth-grader Martina Chavez pitched three scoreless innings, walked no batters, and struck out three to earn the win.
Chavez replaced Belen’s starting pitcher Darlene Baca after Baca was shaken up while sliding head-long into third base to end the Eagle half of the fifth.
Baca was able to keep the Ravens’ scoreless through four innings. But she ran into trouble in the fifth. Four of the Ravens first five batters in the inning scored before the Eagles could stop the bleeding and regain control of the inning.
After neither team could manage a run through the first two innings, the Eagles broke the seal on the game in the bottom of the third when Katherine Archuleta crossed the plate for the first run of the game. Three of the next four Eagle batters came home to give Belen a 4-0 lead.
After the Ravens tied the game, they threatened to take the lead in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Rio left six runners in scoring position through the three frames, but Chavez pitched her way out of the jams.
“We were in some tough situations that we got ourselves out of,” coach Salas said.
Brandi Dearing led off the Eagles’ eighth inning with a double to put Belen in position to win. After Dearing was advanced to third base, Katherine Archuleta attempted to force the issue by laying down a bunt. But Dearing was unable to score and Archuleta as thrown out at first.
That’s when Miriah Salas stepped to the plate and hit a ground ball to shortstop. While Salas was thrown out at first base, Dearing had just enough time to scamper home for the winning run.
In addition to her game-winning RBI, Salas went 2 for 5 at the plate and scored a run. Baca was 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI, and Cassandra Gallegos was 2 for 4.
The victory could be just what the Lady Eagles need to jump-start their season and help them down the line.
“Games like this are very important to help build confidence for the girls, and extra-inning games before district play also build character,” coach Salas said. “We’ll have some close games in district this year, and we needed to get this experience early.”
The Eagles played again on Tuesday against St. Michael’s (no score was available at News-Bulletin press time). The Lady Eagles will have a rematch with the Los Lunas Tigers on Thursday in Belen. The Tigers won the first meeting between the county rivals, 5-1, on Feb. 28.
Eagle Baseball — The Belen High School baseball team’s scheduled doubleheader against Española Valley was canceled on Saturday due to scheduling difficulties with the Sundevils.
According to Athletic Director Danny Griego, the Eagles are looking to fill the hole in the schedule by setting up a game with another school.
For the time being, the Eagles’ first home game is set for Saturday, March 16, when the Los Alamos Hilltoppers come to town for a single game at 10 a.m.