In their fight for respect in the state baseball ranks, the Robertson Cardinals took a leap forward this season under first-year head coach Ken Sandoval.
The Redbirds (19-7 overall) earned the highest state tournament seeding in recent history at No. 4 and will host a first-round Class 3A state tournament best-of-three series against Shiprock beginning Friday afternoon and continuing on Saturday.
Game times will be announced later this week.
Robertson has become a state tournament regular in recent history but may have the deepest, most well-rounded lineup yet. The team has won three straight and eight of the last nine.
The Robertson-Shiprock winner will move on to the quarterfinals 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at Cleveland High in Rio Rancho.
The opponent will be the winner between No. 5 Sandia Prep and No. 12 West Las Vegas, who play in a first-round series that commences 4 p.m. Friday in Albuquerque. Game two is 10 a.m. Saturday and game three, if necessary, will follow.
At 11-13-1 and 6-6, the Dons finished a respectable third in District 2-3A under first-year head coach Ryan Gabaldon. West played all but six games on the road.
Eight of West’s 13 defeats and four wins were decided by one run.
The Class 3A state baseball tournament field:
1. Hope Christian
5. Sandia Prep
6. St. Mike’s
12. West Las Vegas
15. Santa Fe Indian
Notes: Pecos is the No. 7 seed in 2A baseball and will host No. 10 New Mexico Military. Winner advances to play Cobre-Monte del Sol winner. Santa Rosa is the No. 6 seed and will host No. 11 Estancia. Winner gets Mesilla Valley Christian-Laguna Acoma winner.
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As they both prepare for the state softball tournament, West Las Vegas looks every bit as good as the Lady Dons team that made so much noise last spring, while Robertson is clearly improved and looking to make a run of its own.
West Las Vegas (22-4), fresh off a repeat performance as District 2-3A champion, was awarded the No. 5 seed and will host a first-round Class 3A state softball tournament game against No. 12 Santa Fe Indian.
First pitch is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at WLV’s field off Cinder Road.
It’ll be the second year in a row that head coach Lucas Griego and his team host a first-round contest. Last year’s Lady Dons squad beat Socorro in the opener and made a deep run into the state tournament, ultimately falling in the playback bracket.
The winner of the single-elimination game will advance to play the winner of a first-round matchup between No. 4 Hope Christian and No. 13 Wingate. Second-round (quarterfinal) games will be held in Rio Rancho; from quarters on, the tourney will be double-elimination.
As it has been much of the spring, Griego’s mantra is simple: “We’d rather win the last five games (of the season) than the first five games.”
Robertson received a No. 9 seed, just missing the chance to host a first-round game. The Lady Cardinals will travel to No. 8 Lovington for a Friday afternoon game, with the victor getting either No. 1 Portales or No. 16 Socorro in the quarters.
RHS struggled with what head coach Adrian Jaramillo called multiple “distractions” over the last couple weeks but punctuated the regular season with an encouraging sweep of Taos on Saturday. “I hope (Saturday) is a sample of us coming together,” Jaramillo said. “I really think this team can go deep into state and make a run at the championship.”
The Class 3A state softball tournament field:
4. Hope Christian
5. West Las Vegas
6. St. Michael’s
12. Santa Fe Indian
14. Sandia Prep
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Defending state champion Juliana Guerin will be the No. 2 seed in the Class 1A-3A girls’ singles tennis tournament. She’ll receive a first-round bye and await the winner between Lovington’s Katelyn Slater and Lovington’s Sarah Caruana. Guerin’s quarterfinal will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Jerry Cline Complex in Albuquerque.
On the opposite side of the bracket is top seed Paloma Gomez of St. Mike’s, a tournament veteran. She will play the winner between Victoria Speziani of Hope and Malia Paulden of Taos. The girls’ singles seeds in descending order: Gomez, Guerin, Jacinda Hatfield (Lovington), Lindsey McMillian (Sandia Prep), Mikala Vertovec (Raton), Nardos Dawit (Hope Christian), Slater, Speziani, Paulden, Caruana, Samantha Ikard (New Mexico Military), and Miriah Garcia (NMMI).
First-round matches are Wednesday evening, with the remaining rounds Thursday -- quarterfinals at 11 a.m., semifinals at 2 p.m. and finals at 5:30 p.m.
Robertson’s Nick Newman will represent the Cardinals in the boys’ singles tourney. He’ll face the eighth-seeded Will Katzman of Bosque in first-round competition 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Cline Complex. Winner gets the unenviable task of a quarterfinal meeting with No. 1 Jose Gonzales of NMMI at 11 a.m. Thursday.
Semifinals are 2 p.m. Thursday, and finals 5:30 p.m.
Boys’ singles seeds in descending order: Gonzales, Frederico Sanchez (NMMI), Michael Atkins (Sandia Prep), Ben Spangler (Hope), Cameron Crawford (Lovington), Rafael Garcia (Monte del Sol), David Atkins (Sandia Prep), Katzman, Newman, Toby Henson (Raton), Alfredo Jaras (Lovington), Lucas Vigil (Monte del Sol).
The Robertson girls will have two entrants in the doubles’ tournament. As the No. 3 seed, the team of Jaci Fulgenzi and Erika Baca will get a first-round bye to the quarterfinals, playing at 8 a.m. Thursday against the winner between Stebbins and Cooper from Sandia Prep and Lopez and Wolf from Portales.
Martinez and Chung from Robertson will play No. 7 seed Kotsch and Ish from St. Mike’s at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. If they win, they’ll move on to play No. 2 Walker and Privett from Portales at 8 a.m. Thursday.
Semifinals are 12:30 p.m. and finals 4 p.m. also Thursday.
Two pairs will also represent Robertson in the boys’ doubles bracket. David Romero and Amadeo Lopez earned the lofty No. 2 seed and will get a first-round bye. Their first action will come in an 8 a.m. Thursday quarterfinal against the Forkel-Kaufmann (NMMI) vs. Bolden-Butler (Hope) first-rounder.
Over on the other half of the bracket, Michael Salas and Marcos Gallegos are the No. 5 seed and drew Sturm-Lucero from Portales in the first round. They play at 5 p.m. Wednesday, with the goal to reach a quarterfinal against Najera-Corales from Lovington.
Quarters are 8 a.m., semifinals 12:30 p.m. and finals 4 p.m., all Thursday.
New Mexico Military is the No. 1 seed in the Class 1A-3A boys’ team tournament, followed in descending order by Bosque, Robertson, Hope Christian, Lovington, Sandia Prep, Raton and Monte del Sol.
The Cardinals face Sandia Prep at 3 p.m. Friday at Albuquerque Academy, the host site for all team matches. Action begins with doubles, singles to follow at 4:30. Hope-Lovington is also at 3; NMMI-Monte and Bosque-Raton start at 1:30 p.m.
Boy’s team semfinals are 9:30 a.m. Saturday, and finals are 2 p.m.
The Class 1A-3A girls’ team draw has Bosque as the No. 1 seed, followed in descending order by Sandia Prep, St. Michael’s, Hope Christian, Robertson, Lovington, Taos and Portales.
The Lady Cardinals will square off against Hope in the first round Friday, with doubles at 10:30 a.m. and singles at noon. As with all the state team matches, Albuquerque Academy will host. Playing at the same time will be St. Mike’s and Lovington. Earlier, at 9 a.m., Bosque plays Portales while Sandia Prep plays Taos.
Girls’ team semifinals will start at 8 a.m. Saturday, and the finals will be at 1 p.m.
Coach Roman Fulgenzi led Robertson to dual district titles this past weekend in Taos. Individual district champs include Guerin in girls’ singles, Jaci Fulgenzi and Erika Baca in girls’ doubles, and David Romero and Amadeo Lopez in boys’ doubles.