The Portales Lady Rams think they’re ready to make a run at their first Class 3A state championship in softball.
Seeded fifth in the 16-team event, the Lady Rams take on Hatch Valley (14-8) in a first-round clash today at Rio Rancho High School.
The Lady Rams (17-9) reached the 3A state finals in 2007, losing to Bloomfield 6-0. Last year, they were knocked out of the then-single-elimination event by West Las Vegas in the opening round.
“It’s time to peak, for us,” 11th-year coach Robbie Crowley said. “Hopefully, that’s what we’ll do.
“Truthfully, when I look at our schedule, playing Lovington and West Las Vegas (last week), those games have made us better.”
Portales lost twice at Lovington in a battle for the District 4-3A title, then split on Saturday at West Las Vegas. Both of those teams are also in the field.
The Lady Rams have a relatively young team with just one senior, outfielder Gabby Garcia, in the starting lineup with four juniors and four freshmen.
This year, the first round is single-elimination; starting with the quarterfinal round, play becomes double-elimination.
Hatch Valley, which went 7-5 in District 3-3A, and Portales had only one common opponent during the season — Ruidoso. The Lady Rams easily swept four games from their district rival, seeded 15th in the state tourney, while Hatch also thumped the Lady Warriors.
Crowley said she doesn’t know much about the Lady Bears, although she did get a bit of a scouting report from Ruidoso coach Salvador Beltran.
“They’re playing in a tough district,” Crowley said. “He told me their No. 3 hitter and No. 4 hitter were pretty good.”
This is Portales’ sixth consecutive trip to the state meet under the current format. In 2004 and 2005, they reached what was then the regional round of 16, but didn’t advance.
“Our goal from the get-go this year has been to win in the first round, and then take it one game at a time after that,” Crowley said.