Down but not out, the Class 5A defending champion Cleveland High softball team desperately needed to pull off a win at Rio Rancho Tuesday evening, with the regular season winding down the first place in District 1-5A still not decided.

The Rams only needed a win to clinch the district championship; the Storm needed a win to have a shot at first place or even a runner-up finish.

That first-place shot remains in sight for the Storm as of non Wednesday, after Cleveland whitewashed the Rams, 11-0, at Paul Kohman Field.

Three district games remain in the regular season, two for the Storm and one for the Rams.

Here’s what can happen:

  • If the Rams win at Volcano Vista Friday at 4, they win the 1-5A title.
  • If the Rams lose at VVHS and the Storm lose once – they’re at Volcano Vista Thursday at 4, home to face Atrisco Heritage Academy Friday at 6 — the Rams win the title.
  • If the Rams lose at VVHS and the Storm sweep both games, Cleveland gets the district title via the tie-breaker – a bigger win over the Rams (11-0) than the Rams’ win over the Storm (14-8).

Tuesday evening, Cleveland only needed its second at-bats to score more than enough runs (4) to throw a monkey wrench into the Rams’ hopes for the title.

Cleveland (17-6, 4-2) added three runs in the fourth, and then two each in the fifth and sixth to turn it into a rout.

Pitcher Alivia “LaLa” Hughes (8-2) allowed the Rams (17-6, 6-1) only three hits and fanned four as RRHS was shut out for the second time in eight days, having been clobbered 13-0 at La Cueva on April 19. Hughes, backed by solid defense, was 2 for 3 at the plate.

Aubrey Jaramillo, Avi Fierro and Mya Pacheco socked home runs for the Storm, who’d lost to the Rams, 7-5, in the APS Metro Championship game on March 19.

The city’s teams could meet again in the Class 5A state tournament, contested May 12-13 with games at Cleveland High School’s fields, and May 14 with the championship game at UNM’s Lobo Field.

The Storm have a greeting at home plate for Avi Fierro after her 3-run homer in the second inning. (JB Gallegos photo)