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By Dave Burge
Las Cruces Bulletin
After getting off to a rocky start in Albuquerque, the Centennial High School softball team is still battling and still alive for a potential state 5A title, but the road will be long and tough.
The Hawks, the No. 2 seed, lost their first game in Albuquerque 5-4 against No. 7 seed Hobbs and were knocked into the consolation bracket in the double-elimination tournament.
Centennial bounced back with a 2-1 win over No. 6 Cleveland High in its next game.
The Hawks, 22-7 overall, will now face No. 4 La Cueva at 11 a.m. Friday at the Cleveland High softball complex. The Hawks can reach Saturday’s state title game if they beat La Cueva and then win two more games Friday in the consolation bracket.
Centennial coach Fernie Valles said the mood of his young team, which has no seniors, is good but they have been struggling to hit the ball so far.
Sophomore pitcher Caprice Barela gave up just two hits in both games but the Hawks lost the opener against Hobbs, thanks four errors, including one that let the winning run score.
The Hawks also left the bases loaded twice and runners on second and third twice.
Amanda Valles hit a two-run homer to pace the Hawks in their win over Cleveland.
Fernie Valles said nerves may have been to blame for his team’s lack of offense and sometimes shaky defense in their first two games.
“Now that we have played two games, we are settling down and relaxing,” he said. “I think we will be fine tomorrow morning.”
In the A-2A playoffs, Mesilla Valley Christian was eliminated after suffering its second loss in the tournament, falling 12-0 to No. 2 seed Tularosa Thursday night.
Earlier Thursday, the SonBlazers won two games in the consolation bracket, beating No. 6 Jal 19-13 and No. 3 Santa Rosa 15-0.
Wednesday, Mesilla Valley opened with an 18-2 win over No. 12 Pecos but then lost 9-7 to No. 4 Shiprock Northwest to get knocked into the consolation bracket. Mesilla Valley then bounced back with an 11-1 win over No. 8 Mora.
The SonBlazers finished the state tournament with a 4-2 record.
The team has sixth eighth-graders, four freshmen, three sophomores and three seniors.
“We are a really young team,” Mesilla Valley coach Rodney Pollard said earlier Thursday before taking on Jal. “This is really great experience for the young ones and will be a great way to finish out a solid season for the senior class.”