Lady Demons clobber Eunice 19-0; Munoz sisters shut down Cardinals, Danique Blankvoort drives in 3 runs in blowout
Dexter eight-grade catcher Danique Blankvoort belts a two-RBI double in the top of the second inning Tuesday to put the Lady Demons up 10-0 against the Eunice Lady Cardinals at the Class 3A state softball championship in Rio Rancho. The Demons went on to win 19-0. (AJ Dickman Photo)
Above: Dexter eighth-grade shortstop Aryana Munoz wears a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday at Cleveland High School. The HBP brought in the final run of the game as the Lady Demons defeated Eunice 19-0 to advance to the second round of the championship bracket against Raton today at 8:30 a.m. (AJ Dickman Photo)
Below: Dexter junior ace Bryana Munoz hurls a pitch during a quick 1-2-3 inning Tuesday at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho. Munoz pitched four innings of the five innings in the mercy-rule shortened game, giving up two hits while striking out 12 and walking two. (AJ Dickman Photo)
RIO RANCHO — The Dexter Lady Demons know what it takes to reach the top of the mountain — they’ve done it the last two years. They made a statement last year with an 18-0 romp in the second round as they sprinted to a second-consecutive state title.
This year’s squad is a bit different, with the departure of star pitcher Kali Crandall and the addition of some youngsters that are really making a mark in their first season with the powerhouse Lady Demons.
Despite a few new and less experienced faces, the Lady Demons again put the bracket on notice with a 19-0 shellacking of district foe Eunice in the first round of bracket play Wednesday at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho.
“We came and hit the ball,” said Dexter head coach Kim Smith. “They gave us what we need, which is base hits — we’re not a home run team, so they did their job. We’ve been struggling the last few games so I was proud of them.”
Dexter didn’t struggle much against the 10th-seeded Lady Cardinals, racking up seven runs on seven hits in the top of the first inning to put Eunice on their heels from the jump.
Junior pitcher Bry Munoz gave up a single in the bottom of the frame, but sandwiched it with strikeouts to keep the Cards off the scoreboard. She would end up allowing just two hits while striking out a dozen and walking a pair.
In the second, the Demon bats stayed hot as eighth-grader Aryana Munoz, younger sister to Bry, led off the inning with a single. Senior Noemi Gonzalez followed with a base hit of her own before the next three hitters drove in runs, including an RBI double for eighth-grader Danique Blankvoort to make it 10-0.
Bry Munoz sat the Cardinals down in order in the second and third innings before the Demons would pick up the offensive attack again in the fourth. Junior Marlou Blankvoort and Dominique Silvas started it off with a base hit each before Danique Blankvoort again showed patience beyond her years as she curled a Reegan Wilson pitch around third base and down the line for a two-RBI double to make it 12-0.
Bry Munoz went a little wild in the bottom of the fourth, giving up a bloop single and a walk before tossing over the catcher’s head. Tania Lozano tried to score from third, but Danique Blankvoort located the ball quickly and was in front of home plate before Lozano could get halfway there. A short rundown ensued and Lozano was tagged out.
“She lost focus, but she’ll learn from that and come back tomorrow ready to go,” said Smith.
After another walk, Bry Munoz settled down and got the final out on strike three looking.
“I missed a few spots,” Bry Munoz said. “I have a few things to work on for tomorrow. We’re just taking it one pitch at a time and I’m focusing on the little things that I can fix.”
The show wasn’t over just yet, as Dexter came up to bat one more time, and if the Cards were sleeping, Bry Munoz woke them with a sharply hit liner to the third baseman who was able to get a glove on the ball, but couldn’t secure the catch.
Aryana Munoz was up next — as her teammates chanted “Pee-Wee Power” — and grounded to short, but freshman Katie Armendarez, running for Bry Munoz, was on her horse and beat the relay to second. Gonzalez stepped up and blasted a pitch to deep center field that glanced off the glove of the outfielder, driving in a run.
That started another hit parade for the Lady Demons who eventually surrendered their final two outs.
Aryana Munoz took the circle to finish the game. She threw a couple wild pitches before settling in and getting two strikeouts and a pop up to herself to end the game early and eliminate Eunice from the playoffs.
Bry Munoz said it’s always a treat to see her little sister pitch.
“I love when she pitches,” she said. “I love being behind her and seeing her play well. She knows what to do. Our young players are doing their jobs. Whatever they are asked, they do it. They are learning and that’s what we want them to do.”
Smith said the change of pace from the older sister to the younger is nice to have at this time of year.
“It’s always great to have that speed and then bring the little sister in,” she siad. “It’s a good combination and (Aryana) needs the experience up here for the future.”
On the first day of the Class A/3A softball playoffs, District 4 showed why it’s the toughest in the state as low seeds Capitan, Jal and Eunice won play-in games to reach the championship bracket. Jal fell to Raton, but Capitan took down No. 4 Tularosa, another District 4 squad, to make Round 2 where they will face top-seeded Loving today.
“I would say it’s the toughest small-school district in the state,” Smith said. “We beat each other up all year and it shows.”
Dexter will take on No. 3 Raton today at 8:30 a.m. at Cibola Little League Park with another game at 10:30 a.m. should they lose, or 12:30 p.m. if they are victorious.