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Roswell must win, Goddard wants to win

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Valaree Manzanares throws a pitch against Artesia on Friday. Roswell needs to win their showdown with rival Goddard to have a chance at making the playoffs. (Greg Brown Photo)

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Both Roswell and Goddard softball teams came into the season with the same expectations, to rebuild and hope for the best. Roswell and Goddard’s rebuilding this season has gone in different directions, proving the old adage, “It is not how you start, but how you finish.” For Goddard’s four seniors, they hope to derail the Coyotes dreams of making the playoffs. If they can win one game, it will all but end Roswell coach Art Sandoval’s streak of making the playoffs. He has made the playoffs every year since taking over the Coyote program in 2005. Goddard has a lot to play for today.

Goddard hired new coach Katie Shanor in January after previous coach C.W. Hamilton resigned. Shanor organized team workouts when there wasn’t a coach. The Goddard alum was given the job because of her leadership.

Shanor had her team playing well and off to a good start, winning their first six games of the season. The wheels came off and their season turned ugly when they lost to Carlsbad and Dexter during some tournament games. The losses shook the young team’s confidence. Injuries and tougher competition in district play gave the Lady Rockets looking for their first district win of the season.

Look for Goddard ace Jordan Rincon to pitch in one of the games and lefty Jazmyn Prudencio in the other game. Prudencio throws at a slower speed and keeps hitters off balance. If she is on, it could be a long night for Roswell. Jordan Rincon is just starting to round into shape after suffering an ankle injury that limited her participation in offseason conditioning drills.

In their last meeting, Goddard played hard and did not quit. The Lady Rockets cannot afford a lot of errors in this game if they hope to win. In their last meeting, Goddard made 10 errors and allowed runs to score when they should have been out of the inning.

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“I told our girls,” Shanor said, “that Roswell is going to be tough — they took the last two from us and they beat Lovington. They are sitting at the No. 13 seed looking for that 12 seed, which is a lot of motivation. I think Roswell will be bringing their A-game against us. They are going to play their best two games.”

No matter what has transpired this season, Shanor can be proud of the fact that she has instilled in her team a positive winning attitude and a never quit attitude. In the last game at Roswell, Kristina Casaus hit a home run in the sixth inning to give them a chance to win.

With an offseason and another year of experience, look for better things from this program. This softball program has not had a winning program in years, so it is going take time and patience, along with some talent to turn it around. Better days are ahead for the young coach and the younger players in the program.

“I would say this whole season has been a learning opportunity,” Shanor said. “As I’ve been going through this season, I have been learning what works and what doesn’t. It has given me a lot to think (about) over this summer. I’m going to have to build on this program. It is going to take more than I had initially thought. One of the biggest things I have to work on is how to get these girls to recover from a loss.”

In between games, look for Goddard to honor their four seniors: Haydenn Allen, Abrieana Guevara, Amber Aguilar and Addison Bailey.

Roswell coach Sandoval needs this win badly. The Lady Coyotes not only have to win both games, but they must win by at least 15 runs or mercy rule Goddard to make a statement to the voters who will vote on the playoffs Sunday.

“In my opinion,” Sandoval said, “we need two victories and we have to win big. We have to win it and get some help from Artesia. We have to have Artesia sweep Lovington. If that’s the case, we have one big win against Lovington, which was a pretty good win for us.”

Not only does Roswell need to win big, but they need help from an unlikely source: Artesia. The Lady Coyotes need Artesia to sweep Lovington today in order for them to have a chance to make the postseason. The funny thing is that Roswell’s season changed when Sandoval gave a spirited pep talk to his team and they came back in the second game against Lovington and won in walk-off fashion in the seventh inning.

Roswell did not do themselves any favors by losing a doubleheader to Lovington Friday 10-2, 4-2.

Roswell is on a four game losing streak and has only scored four runs in their last four games. Roswell is ranked No. 13 according to Max Preps and they need to be in the top 12 to make the playoffs. If they are to have any chance of making it, they have to beat Goddard today convincingly.

“What I’m telling my kids is the playoffs start today,” Sandoval said. “That’s what I’m telling my kids. I told them if you don’t win you’re out. I want us to try and control our own destiny. I’m in playoff mode and I want my team to understand that. This team right here, we will have nine wins, and this could be the best nine win team I’ve had. I tell them, ladies, you go up in class next year so this is your level. I expect you to perform.”

Roswell plays at 4:30 p.m. today at Goddard.

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