Luna softball takes on No. 12 team in nation
Facing the No. 12 ranked team in the nation for a weekend series, the Luna Community College softball team found itself within a swing of the bat away from potential victory.
In game two of the series Friday afternoon, Luna trailed just 11-9 to begin the sixth inning, looking for a big upset.
But the Clarendon Bulldogs had other ideas, responding to the Rough Rider rally and closing out the game by scoring five unanswered runs. Clarendon, ranked 12th in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll going into the weekend, went on to complete a four-game sweep at West Las Vegas field. Game scores were 23-3, 16-9, 18-3 and 7-2.
Powered by the hitting of several regional standouts, Clarendon jumped out to a 12-0 head start in Friday’s windswept series opener. Savannah Flinn hit a two-RBI home run, and the Bulldogs took advantage of two bases-loaded walks and an error during the top of the first inning.
Olyvia Dominguez (redshirt freshman, Las Cruces, N.M.) cut into the lead by crushing a three-run homer to left in the bottom of the inning.
With pitchers battling gusty winds, Luna struggled to contain Clarendon’s prolific offense. The Bulldogs got RBI doubles from Flinn, Mariyah Sandoval and Western Junior College Athletic Conference Player of the Week Shaylah Dominguez and put the game away in five innings.
Luna showed a lot more fight in game two. After yielding the first two runs, the Rough Riders grabbed a 6-2 advantage in the bottom of the first. Taylor Quintana (sophomore, El Paso, Texas) blasted a two-run homer to tie the contest. Later, Emilia Hawbaker hit a two-RBI double. Aiyana Gonzales scored off Dyani Cummings-Lani’s sacrifice fly, and then Hawbaker made it home on a wild pitch.
Clarendon answered, retaking the lead by the top of the third and building to an 11-6 cushion midway through the fifth.
The Rough Riders weren’t done yet. Gonzales doubled in two runs and then scored on a Cummings-Lani single. That got the gap down to 11-9, and after Andrea Hernandez singled, Ashlea Ortega was up to bat, representing the potential go-ahead run. Ortega sent a shot out to center, but the wind helped Clarendon make the out to end the inning.
The Bulldogs gained the insurance they needed after that, putting up five runs in the sixth to seal the hard-fought win.
Gonzales and Brittany White both went 3 of 4 for Luna; Cummings-Lani and Dominguez had two hits apiece.
Saturday’s action followed similar lines. A two-run homer by Gonzales (freshman, Albuquerque) and Ortega’s RBI double got Luna within 4-3 in the bottom of the second of the series’ third game. But Clarendon had too much offense, led by home runs from Flinn and Destinee Alvarez, and finished the game on a 14-0 run.
Ortega went 2 for 4 with a double for Luna.
The Rough Riders kept things within striking distance in the finale, which was tied 1-1 through two frames and a modest 5-2 spread through four.
White’s sacrifice fly to score Olyvia Dominguez was the equalizer in the bottom of the second. And Hawbaker hit an RBI single in the fourth in the eventual 7-2 defeat.
Gonzales was 2 of 3 with a double for Luna. Shannon Ortiz went the distance in the pitching circle for the Riders, striking out four and allowing three earned runs on eight hits and a walk.
Luna (6-19, 0-8) will play at El Paso Community College on Friday and Saturday.