Home Sports Local Sports Roswell to face Artesia in the district opener

Roswell to face Artesia in the district opener

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Roswell Lady Coyote M. Patterson (11) connects the ball for a triple and reaches third base safely on a close call in the first game of a doubleheader against Onate Lady Knights earlier this season. (David Rocha Photo)

If the big bad No. 1 ranked Lady Dogs think they are going to run roughshod over the young Lady Coyotes on Friday, they better think again. Especially after a disappointing 4-10 start. Look for the Lady Coyotes to double down and play with fire and intensity to start district play. Coach Art Sandoval has gone back to teaching the game and stopped allowing his team to make excuses for being young. For Sandoval, that won’t cut it anymore, not with a grueling 10 game district season that starts at home on Friday.

“I want my team to know,” Sandoval said. “I believe and my coaching staff believes in our players. I expect our players to believe in their coaching staff. If they believe in all that, we’re going to be successful in the end. I love my team and I’m never going to quit on them. We’re going to work as hard as we can and we expect to make the playoffs.”

With a non-conference schedule that included games against Onate, Kirtland Central and Hobbs, the Lady Coyotes were competitive and learned how to play under pressure, especially since losing starting pitcher Mckinze Tarin for the season. Artesia is 12-5 on the season with a six-game winning streak.

With the injury to Tarin, Sandoval will start freshman Valaree Manzanares in the circle. Manzanares has three wins on the season and an assortment of pitches she will throw against Artesia. Sandoval feels disappointed in his team’s record but not their effort. Roswell will have to start the season against Artesia, but then they will play the No. 2 team in the state and surprise of the district, Lovington.

“We’re young,” Sandoval said, “but the thing is, you have to learn to overcome adversity. I think we’re going to be fine. I want my players to give me all they have: win, lose or draw. I don’t care if my players (are) an eighth-grader or a senior. They have to play hard because they never know when they will have their last pitch.”

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Sandoval has learned that with a young team that he is more patient than he thought he was. He feels like he can’t get mad at eighth-graders and freshmen on his team when they are eighth-graders and freshmen.

“I can’t get mad at student-athletes when they are trying,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said that the student-athletes know what they know, regardless if they are freshmen or seniors. He added that this knowledge comes from legendary Eastern New Mexico University coach Phil Clabaugh.

In Sandoval’s mind, one of the biggest surprises to his team is that some of his young players thought it was going to be easier to win than what it has been since they have played a lot of summer league tournaments. One of the biggest differences is that the teams they are playing now are teams with juniors and seniors that will be playing at college next season.

“Because of our past success,” Sandoval said, “we have a big target on our back. I want our player(s) to enjoy the game. All we have to do is go and do our job against Goddard, Lovington and do well against Artesia. I’m just worried about us getting better game by game. I expect nothing else but for our team to play hard and play our best softball as the season goes on. I have full faith in my team. That’s what we do at RHS; we learn how to compete and overcome adversity. Whatever happens, happens, but I expect us to be in the playoff hunt.”

The hunt begins on Friday at home against Artesia.