The Belen High School softball team will be looking to put some distance between itself and Albuquerque Academy when it hosts the Chargers for a single game on Saturday.
Belen is currently is second place in the District 3-4A standings at 3-1, one game behind Silver (4-0, 12-2 overall).
Academy (3-2, 8-7) trails Belen by just a half game. A win over the Eagles would leap frog Academy into second place in the standings. But if the Eagles prevail, Belen will distance itself from the field and gain a secure grip on one of the two state playoff berths from the district.
Belen enters Saturday’s contest on a three-game win streak. Game time is 1 p.m.
It’s a big game, alright. Belen has won some big games already. The Eagles have done it with timely hitting, effective pitching and solid defense.
“Our defense has been outstanding,” said Lady Eagle head coach Nettie Salas. “We have some youth out there, but they’ve shown the maturity to win big ballgames.”
Belen won a big ballgame on Tuesday at Las Cruces Oñate. Timely hitting, good pitching and solid defense all came into play.
The Eagles scored all the runs they would need in the first inning. Katherine Archuleta punched the ball to right field and ended up on second base on an error. Miriah Salas drove in Archuleta with a double and advanced to third on the throw to the plate. Darlene Baca, who had three of Belen’s four hits, followed with a big base hit to give Belen a 2-0 lead.
As the Eagles’ starting pitcher, Baca helped herself with the hit. She needed the help, and help from her defense, when the Knights mounted a rally in the sixth inning.
Oñate had the bases loaded with nobody out and stole a run when the runner on third slyly raced across the plate while Baca had her back turned. But Baca managed to avoid further damage by inducing an infield pop out and getting help from her defense with an inning-ending double play.
Baca, who threw a no hitter against Deming earlier this year, allowed just three hits. “She only struck out four, but they were at the right times,” coach Salas said. “Any scoring opportunities they had, she would shut them down.”
“I told the girls that they have nothing to be ashamed of,” Trujillo said. “They went the distance against these girls – something that they didn’t do last year.”
Said Herrera, “I feel that we can beat them, but we beat ourselves with that one inning. It’s good to go that long with them, and not get 10-runned, because I know they came out here expecting to kill us.”
The Lady tigers will be on the road next week, playing a single game at Las Cruces High Tuesday and a doubleheader at Alamogordo on Friday.