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Weekend Roundup - March 3, 2013

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Travis Valdez went 5 for 6 at the plate, and Andy Gabaldon smashed four doubles to lead West Las Vegas to a sweep of visiting Socorro on Saturday in the first prep baseball action of the season.

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The Dons, who had to wait most of the 2013 season to play a few games on their own field (due to facility work), got off to a 2-0 start at home.

With Jake Ulibarri on the mound in the first game, the Dons scored the key runs in the third inning and held on for a 4-1 win.

Then Gabaldon posted a solid start as West won big in game two, 16-2.

“Everybody played well,” said WLV head coach Ryan Gabaldon, who noted several of his anticipated starters are still missing from the lineup because they are still playing basketball.

• • •

It was a matchup of two top college rugby sides Saturday afternoon as the No. 9 Vatos hosted No. 3 Denver at Perkins Stadium.

The athletic Vatos struck early, scoring a try, but the Pioneers, looking bigger and stronger in the scrums, answered quickly.

DU is now listed as a probable top seed in the regional playoffs; both clubs will make the postseason.

• • •

Highlands women’s basketball seniors China Smith and Alyssa Lopez gave their fans something to remember them by — a couple of stellar performances in Saturday’s regular-season finale.

Smith led all scorers with 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Lopez made 11 of 12 free throws and tallied 18 points as the Cowgirls closed their schedule with a 74-61 exclamation point over Western New Mexico.

Smith and Lopez have been the major playmakers for the Cowgirls during Tiffany Darling’s tenure as head coach.

Fellow seniors Patrina Goree, Tania Hatathlie, T.J. Manson and Brittany Neeley also bade farewell.

The Cowgirls finished 12-14 overall and 8-14 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

• • •

Later, NMHU men’s head coach Joe Harge saw five of his seniors — all key players — log their last minutes in Cowboy purple and white.

Dominick Baca of Pecos, Mannie Cass, Stargell Love, Lavell McDade and Stuart Sullivan concluded their NMHU playing careers.

Baca led Highlands with a career-best 27 points — including seven 3-pointers — but the Cowboys lost an 83-82 thriller against WNMU.

Highlands broke a stalemate when Love made the second of two foul shots with 16 seconds to go, gaining an 82-81 edge. But the Mustangs’ Terrez Scott reversed the fortunes by nailing a jumper in the closing seconds.

Sullivan had 26 points and six rebounds, and McDade 12 points and eight assists. Love also had eight assists, and Cass snared a dozen boards to go with six points.

The Cowboys finished 11-15 and 8-14.

• • •

NMHU’s wrestling team finished eighth with 25.5 team points in the NCAA West Regional over the weekend in Grand Junction, Colo.

Erick Rangel (125 lbs.) finished third individually, qualifying for nationals March 14-15.

• • •

NMHU baseball won two of the first three games at Adams State, taking a 5-2 win Friday before splitting Saturday, 6-9 and 13-5.

• • •

Cowgirl softball split with visiting Regis on Saturday, 7-0 and 6-16.

See Wednesday’s Optic for more coverage.