It was going to be a tough road back to the championship anyway, but after the game against No. 3 seed Tularosa, after they were four outs from going on in the winners’ bracket, their youth and mental errors let them down. Tularosa did their damage in the bottom of the sixth inning with three consecutive triples to tie the game at 5-5, as they would win in extra innings, 7-6.
“It’s one of those things,” Sonny Duran said, “where their (Tularosa) sticks got hot. Hats off to them, they did what they’re supposed to do to win. This hurts and it really stings. They’re a good ball club and we’re a good ball club — it just comes done to the little things.”
The road doesn’t get any easier as they have to play No. 5 seed Laguna Acoma. All throughout the tournament, the Lady Demons have not had an easy game. Dexter seemed to be rolling and having the game in hand until they were two out in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Tularosa was aided by errors to keep the inning alive and the next three batters hit the ball to the gap in left center field, right center field and one ball hit off the base of the fence in straight center field.
Dexter would score a go-ahead run when they put a runner on second base, playing international rules to take a 6-5 lead. Dexter left eight runners on base in this game, and took some strikes looking. Dexter’s assistant coach Danny Munoz seemed frustrated with the players as he could be seen demonstrating, extending his arms as he told them to swing through the ball, according to Dexter head coach Sonny Duran.
“Munoz was telling the players to swing hard,” Duran said. “He was telling them to swing through the ball, don’t expect to get a half swing.”
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Tularosa’s first batter up hit a triple, Dexter loaded the bases to try and get a force out at home. The ball was hit and the throw at the plate hit the runner as the Lady Wildcats scored the game’s winning run to win the game, 7-6.
“We’re not done yet,” Duran said. “Our hill just got higher and higher, we’re going to keep on trucking and we’ll be OK. Now, if we lose, we’re done. We can’t lose anymore, we need to win three games to get back to the championship game. The hill got higher, but we didn’t help ourselves today.”
Dexter plays Laguna Acoma at 10:30 a.m. at Rio Rancho today.
Aryana Munoz shuts the door on Cobre in quarterfinals
To each girl on the Dexter Demons softball team, this game meant a lot. In fact, they were so psyched up that even when they fell behind they were undaunted, and would come back to beat the No. 2-ranked Cobre Indians 11-6 on Thursday at Cleveland High School in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
It’s been noted and written about that earlier in the season, they were ahead of Cobre 4-1 before they lost ground balls and gave up easy runs to lose the game, at the Artesia Softball Tournament.
Dexter coach Sonny Duran felt if his team had more games under their belt — that earlier loss was just their third game — and if they had veteran pitcher Aryana Munoz in the circle, things would have been different.
What better way to show the softball community in District 3A that news of the Lady Demons’ demise was premature? Munoz started the game sitting down the side in order, one-two-three in the top of the first.
Dexter would score two runs on three hits to take a 2-0 lead at the end of the first inning. Cobre came back in the top of the second inning and scored three runs. The Indians would work Munoz deep into counts, drawing three consecutive walks to load the bases. Their next hitter, Ashley Esqueda, hit a bases-clearing double off Munoz to give the Indians a 3-2 lead.
“I wasn’t worried when Cobre took the lead on us,” Duran said. “I knew it would take us a couple of innings to really explode and catch on. We have some great hitters. We just knew at this point of the season that we are peaking and that if we just relaxed and played our game things would work out.”
Dexter showed why they are the defending champions as they scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Dexter loaded the bases and Munoz hit a bases-clearing triple as the Lady Demons would score six runs to take an 11-3 lead.
“I knew when we caught on that we would score,” Duran said. “Hitting is contagious, and it caught on for everybody. Munoz did well for us pitching.”
Munoz would pitch out of jams in the fourth inning when Cobre had runners on second and third base with no outs. Munoz got a batter to pop out to first, a hitter to ground out to first — and Brianna Martinez singled to left field and the fielder charged the ball and threw a strike to the catcher, Zoey Neeld-Stewart, who blocked the plate.
“I just lead my team to play good defense,” Neeld-Stewart said. “This was a big win for us, they were ranked second and we were ranked seventh. We just had to come out here and have big sticks and play big defense and play hard. We have good confidence and we are taking it game by game. Coming into this year we had a very different team than last year, we just had to fight and play hard.”
In the top of the fifth inning, Cobre again loaded the bases, but this time Munoz struck out all three hitters to get out of the inning. In the top of the seventh, Munoz appeared to be tiring as the Indians scored three runs before Munoz retired the side to end the game.
“It was a good game,” Munoz said. “They got us in some bad positions, but luckily our defense was able to get out of it. We wanted to come out here and show them that this was the Dexter that they need to know.”
Dexter would next face undefeated Tularosa.