A big softball game brewed Friday (May 28) evening at the Eagle Ridge softball complex, where the city’s teams battled for the top spot in District 1-5A.
The host Rams (12-2, 1-1) were coming off a 6-2 victory at Cibola Tuesday afternoon; the top-ranked Storm (12-2, 2-0) had just won a contest at Volcano Vista the same day. Cleveland had the edge for the top spot, courtesy of its 19-9 thumping of visiting Cibola on May 21.
The story will be in the Sunday, June 6, Observer.
Storm 3, Hawks 0: Senior Aalijah Alarcon fired a sparkling 2-hitter, walking no one while striking out 11 and not allowing a runner beyond first base at Volcano Vista Tuesday afternoon.
“I felt really freakin’ good today,” Alarcon, bound for UTEP to pitch next season, said, and even behind her mask it was obvious she was wearing a huge smile. “We did a lot of practice this (last week), working a lot of spins, and I just felt good. I think I was on top of every pitch.”
Volcano Vista (10-3, 1-2) managed just two singles, by Justine Encinias in the first and Jayci Johnson in the bottom of the fifth. In between, Alarcon retired 13 straight hitters. After Johnson’s single, Alarcon retired the final seven in a row.
“She hit her spots and she was calmer today than she’s been in the past,” said Alarcon’s catcher, A.J. Naranjo. “… She really focuses on her technique and her spins.”
The result after a few days of fine-tuning, Storm coach Angel Castillo said, was Alarcon overpowering Volcano Vista hitters and painting a lot of outside corners.
“She loves to pitch,” Castillo said. “And she just has fun in the circle. She soaks up everything. She’s just a softball player, at the end of the day.”
All three runs came in the third after two were out.
Analicia Martinez began the rally with a bunt single, and Ryen Herman followed on the next pitch with a sharp single to center. Martinez stole a base on the next pitch, putting runners at first and third. And on the pitch after that, Alarcon drove home Martinez with a single to right.
The next two runs were unearned, the result of fielding errors on routine ground balls.
“We went after what we thought they couldn’t handle and we executed really well,” Alarcon said.
This week, the Storm play once: They’re home Tuesday at 6 p.m. to face AHA.
                                                                                                                                                                                                             —James Yodice

Rams 6, Cibola 2: The visiting Rams bounced back from a rare loss at Atrisco Heritage Academy six days earlier, as senior pitcher Riley Campbell limited the Cougars to four hits.
Out-hitting the Cougars (9-3, 1-2), Mia Flores was 4 for 4 with two doubles, four RBIs and a stolen base. Kionna King had two hits; Campbell, Kayla Reed, Madison Begaye and Angelica Rael each had one hit.
“We didn’t swing at good pitches (the last four innings, after owning a 5-1 lead after the first three),” coach Paul Kohman said. “(Campbell) did very reasonably well — much better than last week.
“I told her before the game, ‘You want to pitch?’ and she said, ‘Yeah,’ and I said, ‘Good; you got it.’”
Getting the first district victory was important, he said, because, “any time you can get a win in our district, that’s great. Our district is so tough.”
Naturally, the surprise so far in the 2021 season was the Rams’ 8-5 loss at AHA, when Kohman said the Jaguars’ coach told him his team “had never played that good.”
The Rams have a game at VVHS Tuesday at 4 p.m., and return home to meet AHA Friday at 6 p.m.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    —Gary Herron