Los Lunas is slowly mounting a diamond tradition to go along with its ring.
What the heck does that mean?
Well, it’s a sports columnist’s vain attempt to paint some kind of metaphor for Los Lunas’ long history of success in the wrestling ring and its latest shining moments on the baseball and softball diamonds.
Hey, it’s not easy thinking these things up, you know. But the gist is that Los Lunas, which has long been known as a wrestling community, is now starting to put itself on the map in baseball and softball circles.
The Los Lunas High School baseball program is at a peak. The Tigers have begun to establish themselves as one of the state’s elite, having qualified for the Class 5-A state tournament two years in a row, finishing as state runner-up this past season.
On the softball side, Enchantment Little League has produced a state championship team three years in a row. A group of young ladies from Los Lunas are currently representing New Mexico in the Little League Southwest Region Senior Division Playoffs in Grand Junction, Colo. (see story at right). It won’t be long before some of these girls are playing for the high school team. Could it be that more state championships lie ahead for these girls at the high school level?
Could be. It’s certainly not out of the question.
But softball and baseball programs still have a long way to go to match the success of wrestling in Los Lunas.
Under the tutelage of Tom Torres, Tiger grapplers have captured five state championship trophies and won 14 district championships since 1979. It is a program that never rebuilds, it merely reloads.
Having finished as state runners-up five times and winning one state title in the last eight years, the Tigers are perennial contenders for the team title. The program is near its pinnacle.
When anyone from around the state thinks of high school wrestling in New Mexico, they have to think of Los Lunas.
Can it be that way with baseball and softball? Maybe someday, but a lot of things have to fall into place.
I don’t know if Steve Contreras plans to stick around as long as Tom Torres has, but it would be nice. Los Lunas was blessed when Torres took over as head coach at the high school in 1974.
Contreras has only been around three years. But he took over an average program and quickly turned it into something special.
Glenn Trujillo has only been the Lady Tigers softball coach for one season, but his name is attached to two of the three state championships Enchantment won in the major and junior divisions the past two years.
The softball program in Tiger Town has been on the skids for a decade. It showed progress its first season under Trujillo, and I don’t doubt it will continue to get better.
Having good coaches like Contreras and Trujillo is a start, but it takes players to play the game and win championships, be it on the diamond or in the ring. As great a coach as Torres is, he has benefited a lot from being able to mine the exceptional Los Lunas junior wrestling program for 18-carat athletes.
That’s what the baseball and softball programs need, and you can see it coming.
The Tiger baseball program can look forward to unearthing some gems in years to come from both the Enchantment and Yucca Little Leagues. Enchantment all-star teams made it to the district finals in the 11-year-old division and the semi-finals in the majors. And Yucca’s major and junior division teams won the Bosque Farms Little League’s first two district titles in the 28-year history of the league.
You already know about Enchantment’s senior softball team, but the junior and major division teams were pretty good too, each losing one-run games in the finals of the district tournament.
The Tiger baseball and softball programs have struck a rich vein at the lower levels of Little League. It may take a few years to cut and polish the raw talent, but it may not be too long before Los Lunas shines on the diamond as much as it does in the ring.