The way they started Thursday, you thought the Portales Lady Rams might score 25 or 30 runs.
Lovington, though, had other ideas.
Portales tallied seven runs before anyone was retired in the first inning of the opener of a District 4-3A softball doubleheader at PHS, but managed only two runs the rest of the way and split with the Lady Wildcats, winning 9-2 before losing 5-0.
The teams remain tied for the top spot in the three-team district. They meet again in Lovington on May 3, and if they happen to split and stay tied the tie-breaker will come down to runs scored head-to-head.
“We’ve been riding our batting for a few games now, but we went kind of quiet (after the seven-run first),” Lady Rams coach Robbie Crowley said.
“We’re a better team than we showed in the second game. I don’t want to take anything away from Lovington; they’re a good team and they played good defense.”
Sophomore right-hander Erica Garcia pitched a three-hit shutout in the nightcap, allowing only a leadoff single in the seventh to her opposite number, Kelsey Laurenz, after pitching out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the first.
Meantime, the Lady Wildcats’ No. 9 hitter, Monique Lujan, drove in four runs, including a game-breaking, three-run triple in the top of the sixth.
The Lady Rams (14-6, 3-1 district) put the first game away quickly, taking advantage of two bases-loaded walks and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch in succession before No. 9 hitter Franny Armijo hit a two-run single to center to make it 7-2.
Lovington pitcher Cindy Marquez then got a double-play grounder and an infield out to escape the inning, and settled in to allow only two more runs — coming in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Cynthia Armijo and an RBI single by Danae Garza.
“I’m just real pleased with her performance,” Lady Wildcats coach Mary Eileen McCraw said of Marquez. “If you take out that one inning, she did a nice job.”
Laurenz, who gave up two unearned runs in the first — the result of two passed balls, one on a third strike — also settled in the rest of the way She retired 12 straight from the final out in the second until a two-out single by Yadi Carrasco in the sixth, finishing with a six-hitter, two walks and nine strikeouts.
Garza and catcher Simi Laurenz, Kelsey’s sister, each had two of the Lady Rams’ eight hits.
Garcia, who pitches with a facemask for protection, walked one and struck out five in the second game.
“She doesn’t mind it,” McCraw said of the mask. “She did a great job. She’s a sophomore, and we’re trying to bring her along for the future.”
The Lady Wildcats (10-9, 3-1) had 12 hits in the game off Kelsey Laurenz, including at least one in every inning. Jordyne Young, Deborah Kann, Yadi Carrasco and Apiphany Iglesias all finished 2-for-3 for Lovington.
The Lady Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the second on a run-scoring wild pitch and Lujan’s RBI groundout.
Lady Rams linescores
Portales 9, Lovington 2
Lovington 200 000 0 — 2 6 5
Portales 700 002 x — 9 8 0
Cindy Marquez and Deborah Kann; Kelsey Laurenz and Simi Laurenz. W — K. Laurenz. L — C. Marquez. Top hitters — Lovington — Krishelle Marquez 2-4, 3B, run; Yadi Carrasco 2-3. Portales, S. Laurenz 2-4, 2 runs; Danae Garza 2-3, 2 RBIs, run, HBP.
Lovington 5, Portales 0
Lovington 020 003 0 — 5 12 2
Portales 000 000 0 — 0 3 3
Erica Garcia and Kann; K. Laurenz and S. Laurenz. W — Garcia. L — K. Laurenz. Top hitters — Lovington, Jordyne Young 2-3; Kann 2-3; Carrasco 2-3, 2 runs; Apiphany Iglesias 2-3, run; Monique Lujan 1-3, 3B, 4 RBIs. Portales, K. Laurenz 1-2, BB. Records — Lovington 10-9 (3-1), Portales 14-6 (3-1).