Home Sports Local Sports Rincon looks to shut down Lovington

Rincon looks to shut down Lovington

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Tommy Rincon Photo Goddard’s Jordan Rincon throws a pitch earlier this season in this file photo. Rincon will start against Lovington today.

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Maybe it was the fast 6-0 start by the upstart Lady Rockets. But as the season has gone on Goddard is on a five-game losing streak. It has given the team a resolve to get back to their winning ways, starting with Lovington as they open up against the No. 2 team in the state.

Late on Thursday after practice, team leaders P.J. Villareal and Amber Aguilar were in the batting cage taking extra cuts after practice had been over for 30 minutes. As team leaders, it is their hope that their example of hard work will provide the spark the team needs to get going.

Villareal was late coming out for the softball team because she was playing basketball. Villareal has brought a winner’s attitude with her from playing on the 2017 state basketball title team. Villareal leads the team in hitting, batting .613, 19 hits, 11 RBIs, five doubles and tied with one triple, and leads the team in home runs with one. The dramatic improvement at the plate can be attributed to her work ethic and being another year older. Villareal last season hit 174.

“I’ve seen PJ dive for loose balls in practice,” Shanor said. “I know if she will do that in practice for me, she will do it in games. She hit a solo home run against Roswell for us. She has a good work ethic, she and Aguilar are our team leaders.”

Aguilar was also on the basketball team and brings a championship pedigree as well. She is third on the team in hitting with a batting average of .419, and second on the team with 13 hits. Aguilar hit .219 last season, those two bats have helped coach Katie Shanor to a winning record.

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This has been a long layoff for the team, they have not played a game since March 31, when they lost to Robertson, 10-1 in the Artesia Lady Dog Invitational Tournament. During the break, first-year coach Katie Shanor has given the team some time off and encouraged them to stay positive.

“We played a really good 6A team in Carlsbad,” Shanor said. “Our team was so used to winning and those losses hurt the girls. We went to the Artesia tournament and made some mistakes on the field and as coaches, I was disappointed as I’ve gone from seeing a 6-0 team hitting and having six-run innings to kind of chocking up a little bit.”

It helps if the Lady Rockets’ will get their ace pitcher Jordan Rincon back healthy. Rincon injured her ankle doing dance, it was determined that she had multiple sprains. The injury was so bad doctors told her it would have been better if she had broken her ankle. Rincon was back for the start of the season, pitching in relief the first game of the season. She has gone 4-4 since the season has begun with three complete games and a 1.09 ERA.

Rincon was thrown into the fire last season when she made her first start of the season against a veteran-led Roswell team. She matched pitch for pitch with Roswell’s Mykaya Olivas until a bad fifth-inning cost them the game, 6-0.

Rincon has spent the summer on her Elite travel ball team, 16U, and working with Dexter’s softball coach Kim Smith on her pitching. Rincon has worked on her favorite pitch, which is her rise ball. It is so good that the hitters never see it rise until it is too late. She will throw a fastball, curveball and screwball to keep the hitters honest.

“Coach Smith worked with me on my technique when I pitch,” Rincon said. “This is my life. I want to one day pitch for the University of Michigan. Playing year round has helped me experience-wise, because I’ve always seen something before.”

Rincon credits her success to being able to read the batters better. Playing in District 5A as a freshman has given her a comfortable feeling in that she has faced most of the batters and knows what pitches they like to hit and where they like them.

Another reason for the team’s success has been the defensive leadership of Deja Ramirez. Ramirez started behind the plate last year for the Lady Rockets. She knows what pitches work for each pitcher in that game and the nice part for them is Ramirez calls a lot of the defensive signals and pitches.

“Our pitchers have gotten better in their accuracy this year,” Ramirez said. “Our coaches tell us that we have to stay together and work together regardless of softball, we’re going to family and that has helped us on and off the field.”

Shanor feels that with Ramirez behind the plate, the team’s defense will get better in district play. On Thursday night the team got together to bond and play, just dance, eat pizza and make a craft to hang in their dugout about something they’re grateful for, trying to keep the positive vibe going.

“I see so much in these girls,” Shanor said. “I don’t like losing, but part of what we’re going to learn is if we’re going to lose, we’ll do it swinging the bats and playing defense. I’m really proud of these girls. My goal for these girls this year is to get them to state. Beyond that, I want to make a difference in their lives.”

Goddard plays at 4:30 p.m. at home against Lovington in a doubleheader.