This is where first-year coach Sonny Duran has been pointing to all season. Survive and advance time. The Lady Demons stunned teams in their district this year when they won, going 8-1. Dexter had their way with upset-minded St. Michael’s on Wednesday, winning 6-1.
At the beginning of the year, nobody except Dexter expected to be in this position marching on to the quarterfinals. Last season, the Lady Demons lost five key seniors and the only senior back to start this season is Yajaira Sosa at first base. Sosa has provided big hits and leadership this year.
This season’s team had to survive without the pitching of Aryana Munoz. She was injured playing volleyball this season and is pitching in the fourth game of the season this year. They will need her to be sharp and throw her off-speed pitches successfully if they are going to have a chance in this game.
“Aryana (Munoz) will be in the circle today,” Duran said. “She hits her spots a lot better and she is the most experienced pitcher that we have this season. We didn’t have her until the last four games. We’re hoping she will lead us to a win.”
Dexter has more speed throughout the lineup this year than last year. A few of their starters are All-State in track. Not only does that help them on offense where they will try to take an extra base on balls hit to the outfield, but they will also steal a base or advance on wild-pitches or pass balls.
One of the main differences in the team this year is on defense. The Lady Demons speed, when balls are hit to the outfield, has been a difference maker. Anayee Carlos is the 200-meter state champion in track. Dexter’s shortstop Kelsey Storie also is fast and is able to get to balls that normally would have gotten through, but because of the speed, they end up being outs. Catcher Zoey Neeld-Stewart has speed, as well. Duran believes his team is the fastest softball team in the state.
These two teams met on March 23, when it was Dexter’s third game of the season. That game was played without Munoz in the circle. Cobre was playing their 10th game of the year. Dexter had a 4-1 lead into the fifth inning until they kicked the ball and made errors, before losing, 15-6, in the Artesia tournament.
“We were up early on them,” Duran said. “We made a bunch of errors behind our pitcher in the fifth inning and it got away from us and they beat us, 15-6. We have three players that didn’t play that game. We’ll have our best team tomorrow.”
Coach Duran is hoping that the girls that have been on the championship teams will count for something and help continue setting the standard for Dexter softball. He feels like his team is trying to build something bigger than them and that’s a dynasty.
“I believe we have the team to win,” Duran said. “All we have to do is go and perform. We have to be aggressive on the bases and limit our mistakes in the field.”
Dexter plays Cobre at 12:30 p.m., at Cleveland High School on Field 4 for the first game.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@ rdrnews.com.