Yup, baseball, softball have begun

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Keep the shorts and sunflower seeds in storage for the time being. Ski parkas and hot cocoa might be more in order.

But yes, baseball and softball season is officially under way even amid the blizzard conditions that are still slamming the region.

New Mexico Highlands’ softball team broke the ice — literally, sort of — on Tuesday by splitting a doubleheader with Eastern New Mexico, losing 15-6 but taking game two 7-0.

Melissa Martinez threw a gem in the Cowgirls’ victory, dealing the Zias a no-hitter in a seven-inning shutout. Only a hit batter  — Brittany Widner to lead off the fourth — kept Martinez from a perfect game; the only other Zia base runner got on because of a fielding error.

Martinez is a freshman from Albuquerque’s Cibola High School.

Designated hitter Tanya Groff led NMHU with a 2-for-4, two-RBI game; catcher Roxanne Avalos also drove in two runs.

Earlier, Cowgirl outfielder Ashley Paiz connected on two of three at-bats, scored one run and drove in another in the’ losing cause.

Eastern’s Kristen Cruickshank scattered three hits and three runs over her four innings of work to earn the pitching win.

NMHU scored twice in the bottom of the third to carve the lead down to 6-2, but the Zias burned reliever Kelsey Groff and company for nine runs in the fifth.

Avalos finished the day with four RBI to highlight the Cowgirls’ offensive effort.

More action on the diamond is in store this weekend. Highlands’ baseball team hosts a series with ENMU, and Luna Community College’s Rough Riders have a four-game set Friday and Saturday at Paradise Valley in Phoenix. Then the Cowgirl sluggers are back in action Sunday at Oklahoma Panhandle State.