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Luna sluggers conclude 2019 slate

With visiting Midland looking to improve its playoff standing, it was a tough go for the host Luna Community College softball team this past weekend.

Midland swept to 11-3 and 9-0 wins Friday afternoon and then outlasted Luna 12-10 and 11-6 on Saturday. The series, which concludes the regular season, was held at New Mexico Highlands University’s Cowgirl Field, a change from the usual West Las Vegas field.

In game one, the Chaps’ Yvonne Hernandez had a solo home run and a pair of RBI doubles to lead her squad to a 12-0 advantage through four and a half innings. Ashlea Ortega got Luna on the scoreboard with a line-drive RBI single to score Andrea Hernandez in the bottom of the fifth. Then Aiyana Gonzales (2 for 3, two RBI) sliced a two-run single, bringing home Ortega and Jackie Delgado. But that would be all for the scoring.

Hannah Ice’s seven-hit, five-strikeout performance in the pitching circle marked game two, a 9-0 shutout. For a few innings, it had the look of a pitchers’ duel, as Luna’s Dominique Guidry threw shutout innings in the second and third frames. But Midland scored two runs in the fifth and four in the sixth to put the game out of reach. Yvonne Hernandez and Natalie Gonzalez homered for the visitors. Olyvia Dominguez, Taylor Quintana and Ortega came up with two hits apiece for Luna.

Midland threatened to run away with game three as well, but the Rough Riders were ready. After spotting a 3-0 head start, Luna answered with a three-run frame of its own. Quintana scored Ortega and Gonzales with a two-RBI double up the middle. Then Emilia Hawbaker’s RBI single plated Brittany White to make it 3-3. Midland regained control on Gonzalez’s two-run double in the top of the third, but again Luna had a response. Ortega drove in Dyani Cummings-Lani, and Quintana hit a two-run single to give the Riders a 6-5 edge. Then White scored Gonzales with a single to the outfield, and Luna led 7-5. The Chaps retaliated, regaining control by scoring the next five runs to take a 10-7 lead midway through the sixth. In the bottom of the sixth, the Riders rallied to regain the lead. Ortega singled to score Hernandez. Then Delgado scored on an error after a grounder by Gonzales. And Ortega made it home on a Quintana single. The 10-9 Luna lead was short-lived, however, as Midland struck twice in the top of the seventh. Ice denied any scoring in the bottom of the frame. Ortega (4 for 4 with two doubles, two RBI, three runs) and Quintana (3 of 4 with one double, five RBI) finished with multiple hits for Luna.

Errors proved costly for Luna in the series finale, as four of six defensive miscues led directly to runs for the visitors. Otherwise, it was an evenly played contest and pitching matchup between Ice and Cummings-Lani. Ortega had a triple in going 2 for 3, and Cummings-Lani doubled and finished 2 of 4.

Luna finished the regular season 10-35 overall and 4-24 in Western Junior College Athletic Conference play in its first full year under head coach Mark Mattox. Hernandez and Ortega finished among the league leaders in stolen bases with 16 each, tied for ninth in the WJCAC. Sabrynn Chacon’s 51 strikeouts ranked seventh. Ortega led Luna in batting average (.447), slugging percentage (.752) and doubles (28). Quintana led in home runs with eight and runs batted in with 42. The team will lose five sophomores – Guidry, Hernandez, Ortega, Quintana and White.

Howard College outgunned host Luna to sweep a four-game series over the weekend at Brandt Park. Howard won 16-6 and 16-1 on Friday, then 15-0 and 19-2 on Saturday.
The Rough Riders wrap up the spring at 7-48 overall and 3-33 in WJCAC action under second-year head coach T.C. Nusser.

Luna led game one 2-0 through one inning, but the Hawks scored the next nine runs to grab control – and they limited the home team to seven hits overall. Manny Cachora and Seth Olguin had two knocks apiece for the Rough Riders, and Olguin doubled and drove in two runs. He and Nick Rodriguez stole two bases each in the 16-6 loss.

A hot start – 10 runs in the top of the first – gave Howard all it needed to secure a win in game two. Brandon Pimentel, Jacob Smith and Caleb Jacobs all homered for the Hawks. Dustin Sipe doubled and went 2 for 3 and Olguin also hit 2 of 3 for Luna. Tyler Wilkinson recorded five strikeouts in four innings of relief.

Ricky Apodaca was the picture of efficiency for Howard in game three, striking out six Rough Riders and holding them to four hits and one walk in five innings of work. Pimentel and Smith both hit home runs to lead the Howard run support. Justin Miller led Luna at the plate, going 2 for 2.

Patrick McGee hit a solo home run and Ben Smith went 2 for 3 with an RBI to highlight Luna’s effort in Saturday’s finale. But Howard held the Riders to five team hits while Pimentel, Lance Russell, Trace Bucey and Parker Wayne all homered in a 17-hit, nine-walk showing. Pimentel finished 5 for 5 with five RBI.

Nick Rodriguez (.367), McGee, Sipe and Cachora all finished the season with batting averages of .300 or better. Rodriguez led the squad in RBI with 31 and doubles with 15. Cachora’s six home runs were a team best, as were Sam Creed’s nine steals.