SANTA FE — One of the deepest runs ever made by a Little League team from the Meadow City has come to an end.
The New Mexico All-Stars of the Juniors (age 13-14) softball division went 1-2, unofficially finishing third, in the Southwest Regional Championship tournament this past week in Santa Fe. The run came to an end with Monday’s 8-2 loss to Texas West at Bicentennial Park.
Team New Mexico originated as a squad from Las Vegas Little League managed by Angela Pino with the help of coaches Michael Quintana, Steve Montoya and Ernesto Salazar. Las Vegas bounced back from a loss against Silver City to win the double-elimination state tournament held in Albuquerque.
Now known as the New Mexico All-Stars, the team opened regionals by bouncing Louisiana 12-3 on Friday on day two of the tourney held in Santa Fe. Kendra Duran limited the Louisiana girls to three hits with six strikeouts in a complete-game effort. The Bayou bunch had beaten Colorado on day one.
Then came Texas East (a bunch from Columbus, Texas) and towering 6-1 pitcher and slugger Hali Wisnoskie, who’d just controlled Texas West 3-1.
Wisnoskie dominated on the mound all game, scattering New Mexico’s hits enough to prevent serious rallies.
And she also was her own best friend, crushing a three-run homer off Duran to double her team’s lead to 6-0 in the top of the second.
Duran and the New Mexico defense worked out of a couple of jams in the third, stranding the Texans. Then relief pitcher Samantha Montano did the same after taking over in the fourth. The Texans loaded the bases with one out and looked to extend their lead when Montano uncorked a wild pitch. But Montano recovered the ball and tagged out a runner at home. Then she struck out Isabel Theut to end the at-bat.
Elicia Trujillo roped a beautiful leadoff double for New Mexico in the bottom of the fourth. But Wisnoskie retired the next three batters in order, keeping the margin at six.
Both pitchers were clicking in the fifth, and the lone base runner was New Mexico’s Mikayla Roybal.
New Mexico had the makings of a rally in the bottom of the sixth after back-to-back hits by Sarah Gold and Montano. Savannah Sanchez nearly made it three in a row when she hit a chopper up the middle. But Texas East shortstop Isabel Theut made a diving grab in the dirt, sliding into the bag at second to force an out, the third of the at-bat.
Texas East’s Natalie Alley smacked a two-RBI double for insurance runs in the top of the seventh.
On Monday morning, Texas West (Lubbock, Texas) downed New Mexico 8-2 in an elimination game that also served as the regional semifinal.
The West Texans took a 3-0 head start, then held on. New Mexico got on the board with a run in the fourth and another in the fifth to pull within 4-2. After that, it was all West Texas, which added four insurance runs to its lead over the final two frames.