Early runs lift Onate past Lady Cats

Staff report
LAS CRUCES — Clovis High’s softball team would like to take a mulligan on the first six innings.

Senior left-hander Rebecca Whitlock held the Lady Wildcats hitless until the seventh, then gave up two runs on three hits before nailing down second-seeded Onate’s 8-2 win on Friday night in the Class 5A state softball round of 16.

The Lady Knights (25-2) play against either 10th-seeded Rio Rancho Cleveland or No. 7 West Mesa, who also played on Friday, in an 11 a.m. winners bracket quarterfinal on Thursday at Cleveland H.S. After the round of 16, the tournament becomes double-elimination.

CHS pitcher A.J. Wright broke up Whitlock’s no-hitter with a double before Micah Morris and Jaren Piepkorn added RBI singles in the seventh. Whitlock finished with two walks and five strikeouts.

“Our big problem was we didn’t start hitting until the seventh inning,” Lady Cats coach Brandi Thomas said. “They’re just a good team. We played well in the field.”

Wright went the distance in the circle for the Lady Cats (11-16), allowing 10 hits and six earned runs with two walks and two strikeouts. Most of the damage came early, with the Lady Knights building a 6-0 lead through two innings.

Stephanie Duran, who finished 3-for-4, hit a two-run single in the first while Alex Candelaria belted a leadoff homer and Krystal Vaca and Lucero Mendoza added RBI doubles in Onate’s four-run second.

Clovis lost to Onate 17-7 in a tournament at Rio Rancho in late March to fall to 1-7, but finished one game over .500 the rest of the way.

“We knew we had some talent,” Thomas said. “We just had to get over the hump. I’m proud of these girls; we had a heck of a season.”