Mike Powers| News-Bulletin photos
New Belen softball coach Oscar Medrano gives pointers to Eagle pitchers in preparation for the start of the season.

Belen Eagles  

It has been an exciting and scary time for Oscar Medrano.  

Shortly after being hired in July to replace Joe Duran as the Belen softball coach, Medrano was diagnosed with cancer.   

“It’s been a long last six months,” Medrano admitted. “I’m doing a lot better now. God willing, I’m going to be fine and I’m going to continue.” 

Medrano says he’s in recovery and thankful he can focus on coaching and his full-time position with the Albuquerque Police Department.  

“I think the game of softball and my job have been really good for me, to heal and stay strong and move forward,” he said.  

Medrano has an eye for talent after coaching stints in Albuquerque that included 17 years at Valley.  

“From what I’ve seen, we’re going to be very competitive,” he said. “I’m really happy with the talent.”  

While Medrano is adjusting, the players seem to have settled in.  

“I’m super excited about this new coaching staff,” said Lorissa Scott, a junior pitcher and infielder. “He (Medrano) just has a lot of years of experience. You can tell he knows what he’s talking about.”  

Denae Chavira, a senior, is battle-tested on the mound and should make for a solid 1-2 rotation with Scott.    

Overall, the Eagles are a young team, with eighth-grader Paeson Lucero and several freshmen, including Honey Mirabal and Shyla Rocha.  

“I really like the mixture of some older girls and some younger girls,” said Medrano, pointing out his younger players have plenty of club and varsity experience.   

“I think we have strength in everything,” Scott believes.  

Enough strength to challenge St. Pius for the district title?  

“I see us competing against them and challenging them — go on to state and go deep into state” Medrano said.    

BHS, 14-12 last year, opens the season Feb. 22 at Pojoaque Valley.  


Valencia players are optimistic they can return to the playoffs under first year coach Eli Miera.

Valencia Jaguars 

Like Belen, there is new “management” in the dugout at Valencia, with Eli Miera taking over as Jaguars’ coach after the departure of Kayla Young.   

“It’s going great,” Miera said during the first week of practice, impressed with the facilities, VHS administration and the turnout. 

“It’s way better than I expected. We’re rocking and rolling. I’ve been really impressed with the talent level,” the coach said. “We’re talented in all of the grades.”  

That includes standouts who aren’t even in high school yet.  

“We’ve got some eighth-graders who are just stars, and freshmen and sophomores that will be starters for a long time,” Miera said.  

The first order of business is to find a replacement for Neveah Bracamonte, who is pitching at Pima Community College in Arizona.  

“We’re going to go by committee. Everybody is going to get a shot at throwing strikes,” Miera said.  

Part of that “committee” is Miana Lee Barron, a senior pitcher and utility player.  

“She’s got good location. She’ll hit her spots,” Miera said.    

“It’s going to be a lot to fill her shoes,” Barron says of Bracamonte.  

However, when it comes to putting runs on the board, Barron believes, “We have a lot of power hitting — a lot of it.”  

Look for smooth fielding infielder Cambria Garley to play a significant role after earning second team All-State honors as a freshman.  

“She’s amazing,” Miera said. “For her to be a sophomore, it makes me feel confident about our future and what the next few years are going to look like.”  

The Jaguars look to improve on last season’s 7-16 record.  

“I thought we were a couple years out, but I think we might do big things this year,” Miera said. “Being competitive and playing into May” in the state playoffs.  

VHS starts the season March 2 at home against Manzano. 


A strong off-season campaign has raised expectations for the Los Lunas softball team.

Los Lunas Tigers 

Back-to-back losses to Albuquerque High to end the 2023 season may have kept Los Lunas (12-13) out of the state tournament. Even though the Tigers are a young team, last years’ experience could put them into playoff position.    

“Our goal this year is to definitely win district,” proclaims coach Patrick Ortiz. “If we’re clicking on all cylinders, I think we can compete with anybody.”  

To do that, LLHS must find a way to replace six seniors, including Marleigh Manns, a first-team All-State outfielder now playing at New Mexico State University. Although the roster is filled with 10 players who are in grades eight through tenth, they are a seasoned bunch.   

“We played in a fall league — we did really well,” said Ortiz. “A lot of the coaches said, ‘Man you guys are hitting the ball.’ I’m hoping that continues.”   

Kelsie DeGraff and Halie Delgado, “a speedster,” are sophomores who batted over 400 last season. Two other sophomores, Brooke Baca and Natalie Madrid, return to the mound.  

“They look strong this year, throwing a little bit harder,” Ortiz said.  

Sarah Love is the only senior on the roster with varsity experience. 

“We have a good chance because they are more mature,” Love said of the teams’ youth.  

She praised the hitting skills of Madrid, Haidyn Garley and others on the roster.  

“There are a lot less gaps in the lineup,” she said. “Home-run hitters, we have a lot of them,”   

Love is listed as a catcher and third baseman, however, “We can put her in eight of the nine positions,” except pitcher, said Ortiz. “She’s just one of those players, a great kid.”  

LLHS opens the season March 5 at home against Aztec.   

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Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.