Home Sports Local Sports Rivalry ramps up in intensity in Sandoval Bowl

Rivalry ramps up in intensity in Sandoval Bowl

Roswell coach Art Sandoval, left, talks to his daughters, Victoria, with the glove, and Sheyanne in catching gear, during a summer camp in 2019. (Daily Record File Photo)

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For all the Goddard and Roswell softball fans, the game today cannot get here fast enough. It is about to go down and the 16-month wait will only increase the intensity and rivalry.

The worst kinds of fights are between people that used to be friends. That’s what will happen when former teammates Rebecca Marrujo and Jessica Zamora have a 2008 reunion at home plate, when they hand in their lineup cards to the umpire.

Roswell softball head coach Rebecca Marrujo. (Daily Record File Photo)

For Marrujo, the wait could not have been longer. She was named as the replacement for Art Sandoval and was all set to coach her first game when COVID-19 hit. The wait lasted over 16 months and now, Marrujo is still a first-year coach with no wins or losses on her record.

No matter who wins, the real winner will be former Coyote coach Art Sandoval. He has impacted both players he coached. What he taught them was that there is nothing soft about softball.

“I told my girls to use softball to get an education,” Sandoval said. “I’m so proud of both of them because they have done that.”

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Marrujo and Zamora used their talents to get an education. Marrujo played at Luna Community Junior College before ending her career at Eastern New Mexico University.

Goddard softball head coach Jessica Zamora. (Daily Record File Photo)

Zamora played for the University of the Southwest and was on the Red River Athletic Conference first team. She was Defensive Player of the Year for two years while earning two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree.

Sandoval said he changed Marrujo from a third baseman into a great right fielder. She did not want to move there but did so for the good of the team.

Sandoval said he needed someone smart out there who had a big arm, who could make the throw from right field to third base and home. Marrujo could do that.

Sandoval also turned her from a right-handed hitter into a left- handed hitter that batted at the top of the lineup for the Coyotes.

“It has always been a dream of mine to be a coach,” Marrujo said. “From all of the coaches I have had, my dad has probably had the biggest impact on me as an athlete and coach.”

Zamora was the epitome of always being ready. As an eighth grader Zamora was a pitcher on the junior varsity. The starting shortstop for Roswell broke her thumb in four places.

Sandoval told Zamora she would start at second base against Carlsbad. She eventually would be moved to third base and then finally shortstop as they made a deep playoff run.

“Coach Sandoval taught me a lot about mental toughness,” Goddard coach Zamora said. “He taught me how to go through a situation and how to adapt to it. Whether it be good or bad. He made me very mentally tough.”

The Roswell team made it to the Final Four in softball. Sandoval said the team was close and there were no cliques. The team never quit.

“I could not be prouder of those two,” Sandoval said. “For both, softball was their life. They both loved softball and have represented their families and schools well. It goes to show what can happen when you set a goal and are determined to achieve it.”

Sandoval said the game that still sticks with them all is the loss to Piedra Vista. They were ranked No. 9 in the nation.

They faced them in the first round of the playoffs and were leading 3-1 going into the seventh inning. A player from Piedra Vista hit a three-run homer and put the Lady Coyotes in the loser’s bracket, as they lost 4-3.

“That loss crushed me,” Zamora said. “We had them (Piedra Vista) on the ropes until the seventh inning.”

Roswell will have to deal with a hot-hitting Goddard team. Goddard had 23 hits in one game and hit the cover off the softball in the other game. Goddard sweeping Clovis was their first sweep the program has had in five years.

“We had a good opening weekend against Clovis,” Zamora said. “I think these girls are hungry and are ready for the game today. We have four seniors, and we are young. We have a whole lot of talent in this program. All it takes is for us to be dedicated and we will improve. We have already improved.”

Zamora said she expects a good game against Roswell. It has been years since Goddard has beaten Roswell in a softball game.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be beating Roswell,” Zamora said. “We have some talented girls on this team. We know Roswell is talented, but they are not completely unbeatable. No one is unbeatable. No one. Anybody can be beat on any given day.”

Roswell will open the season at home and will be ready for the rivalry game. It has been over 16 months since they last played a game and a lot has changed.

Another interesting fact is that Goddard’s pitching coach Mykaya Olivas pitched for Sandoval and Roswell in 2017. Sandoval’s youngest daughter, Victoria, is a shortstop and pitcher on this year’s team.

Marrujo said that as of now, Leah Sanchez will get the start in the circle. Marrujo said she has confidence in all her players, and that they will be ready to play.

“Our girls are fired up,” Zamora said. “They are going to be ready to rock-n-roll. It is going to be a good game. I’m excited too.”

“It is always an honor,” Marrujo said, “to sow back into where you started. I learned a lot in the Roswell program, and to come back and give back to these kids, and the community. To try and be a light is a privilege.”

Roswell hosts Goddard at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. today.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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