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Lady Demons celebrate “homecoming”

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Dexter’s catcher Danique Blankvoort hangs onto a strike in this file photo. Dexter won Thursday night against Eunice 8-2. (Jeannie Harris Photo)

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DEXTER – “There’s no place like home.” Just ask the Dexter Lady Demon softball team.

The Lady Demons defeated the Eunice Cardinals 8-2 getting back to District 4-3A play Thursday afternoon.

“This was the first home game since the Lindsey Callaway Tournament, it’s been a very trying three weeks, we’ve had some injuries and they’re fighters and that’s what makes them Lady Demons,” said Kim Smith, Dexter’s head coach.

The last time the Lady Demons played at home was March 24 as they defeated Loving 10-5 in the title game of the home tournament. Since they’ve been away, Dexter has played at Ruidoso, Tularosa and last week in the Artesia Lady Dog Classic.

“I think I forgot how to mark the field. I had to remember how to do it this morning,” Smith said with a chuckle.

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The Lady Demons (10-1), the three-time defending 3A state champions, suffered their first loss of the season last Saturday to the Lady Dogs 6-5.

While Smith may not have been sure about marking Dexter’s home field, she hasn’t forgotten about winning as the Lady Demons pounded 13 hits in the win over the Cardinals. Senior starting pitcher Bryana Munoz went the distance giving up two hits to the opposition.

“We’re out here to get better every day and our fielding was a lot better today. I thought our intensity was better,” Smith said.

Smith was pleased with Dexter’s execution, especially on the offensive side. She feels hitting is very important if the Lady Demons are to win district and then go back to state for a four-peat.

Smith felt that Eunice was a quality opponent. She said, “It’s district time. Everybody brings their best and we stepped up and for the most part, (we) played pretty well today.”

During the first inning, the game was looking promising for the Cardinals as lead off hitter Jaycee Smedley singled. Munoz, a senior who is bound for the University of Texas at El Paso next year, was able to retire the rest of Eunice’s lineup.

In the bottom of the first, Munoz was able to help her cause as she singled and went to third on a Cardinal error. She later scored on a Kelsey Storie sacrifice fly. Lady Demon Danique Blankvoort later doubled and scored on a fielder’s choice as the Lady Demons led 2-0.

Munoz kept the Cardinals in check in the second and third innings, striking out four batters in both frames.

In the bottom of the second, Eunice’s starting pitcher Reegan Wilson looked like she was settling down, only giving up one single to Zoey Neeld.

The Lady Demons rattled Wilson in the bottom of the third scoring three runs thanks to a single by Dominique Silvas, who also drove in Danique Blankvoort and her older sister Marlou Blankvoort, who walked and singled respectively. Silvas later scored on a Yajaira Sosa single.

Munoz kept Eunice off the bases in the fourth and fifth innings, and in the bottom of the fourth, the Lady Demons scored two more runs as Neeld was hit by a pitch and later advanced to third on a single by Munoz. Storie drove both in with a double.

Dexter scored another run in the bottom of the fifth and Munoz was able to keep the Cardinals off the bases in the top of the sixth.

In the top of the seventh, Munoz was able to get Eunice’s leadoff hitter Jasmine Owens to ground out. She walked the next batter Aide Frazier and then Jaqui Ortega smacked a two-run homer over the left field wall. For a spell, it looked like Munoz was in trouble as the next two Cardinal hitters reached base.

The senior found her magic striking out Chastyn Pierson and Kelsie Fish tapped a pitch back to Munoz, who then tossed it to first baseman Allyssa Madden for the final out.

“Bry’s a quality athlete, she did miss some spots and she knows she did and she’s going back tomorrow (Friday) in practice and work on the pitches she needs to work on to be better for the team,” Smith said.

From the Cardinals point of view, head coach Chad Pierson was pleased with the defensive play. The offense was another issue.

“We didn’t hit anything solid,” Pierson said.

Pierson said Dexter is the top team in 3A and he wants the Cardinals to be like them.

“That’s who we compare ourselves to and (we are) trying to get to their level. Overall, I thought we played pretty well against them,” Pierson said.