There was nothing going good for the Goddard Lady Rockets in their district doubleheader against Artesia on Friday.
After all, they were playing the state’s No. 1 ranked softball team in District 4-4A, that was evident by Artesia’s dominance in game one, which they mercy-ruled Goddard, 20-0. In game two, Goddard played better, losing the second game of the twin-bill, 7-1.
“After that game, I told the girls to keep their heads up, we still had one more game,” said Goddard coach Katie Shanor. It seemed like Shanor had something up her sleeve prior to the second game.
The surprise was pitcher Jordan Rincon — she relieved Kristina Casaus in the third inning of game one when the game was out of hand.
In game two, Rincon was virtually untouchable. She struck out two Lady Bulldogs and kept the hitters off balance. “They all (Goddard and Artesia players) do a lot of travel ball together, and if there is one person who knows them best, it’s Jordan,” said Shanor.
Artesia coach Sandra Smith blamed their lack of hitting in game two on, “We just came out flat, we had just beaten them pretty well in game one,” said Smith.
However, the defending champs looked unmotivated in game two, while the Lady Rockets played their hearts out because they wanted to beat Artesia.
“Our girls came out hungry, and we had nothing to lose,” said Shanor, and the Lady Rockets played like it.
Artesia did take an early 1-0 lead, as they put down a bunt single followed by a double, which drove in a run for a 1-0 lead.
After that, Rincon was like a dog with a bone. She wasn’t overwhelming but the placement of her pitches fooled hitter after hitter. “Some people are street smart, others are book smart, but Jordan is softball smart,” Shanor explained.
The Artesia batters had doubles, triples and home runs in game one, but could barely put the bat on the ball in game two. Artesia hit meek fly balls, pop-ups in the infield or hit the ball at someone.
The Goddard defense showed signs of brilliance, they dove and stopped balls that were headed into the outfield, other times they backstabbed missile-seeking spheres that could have turned into extra-base hits.
“The team could have given up, but they didn’t. I told them after the game how proud of them I was,” Shanor said
Artesia is not No. 1 for nothing. “We had to put them away and we were struggling at the plate,” said Smith. But on the mound, freshman pitching sensation, Rylee Crandall kept the Lady Rockets at bay.
Crandall recorded 14 strikeouts including the last two of the game. Goddard already had a run-in with two Lady Rockets on base. “If any of their upcoming hitters gets a hit or an extra-base hit, this is a much different game, and we’re in a dog fight,” said coach Smith.
Artesia hung to win its 14th game of the year. Just about every softball fan in New Mexico knows about the Lady Bulldogs’ mystic, however, the Lady Rockets put a chink in their armor Friday night. “That’s where we strive to be,” said coach Shanor, “and we’ll have to take defeats like that trying to get there.”
And in game one, Artesia sent 11 batters to the plate and produced 10 runs in the second inning. However, had the Lady Rockets executed a key play in the inning, they may have escaped with only giving up just a couple of runs.
“We made some defensive miscues that kept the inning alive for them,” Shanor pointed out. And a couple of other mistakes from Goddard in the third inning opened the flood gates for Artesia.
Artesia sent 13 batters to the plate and chased Casaus to the showers in the third inning.
Artesia’s Crandall, in three innings of work, gave up no hits, no runs, and faced nine batters.
The Lady Rockets played with determination and grit Friday night, it just didn’t show on the scoreboard and win column, yet.