Clovis softball coach Brandi Thomas never had as large a group of seniors as she did this season. If Thursday night’s game against Hobbs was the last of the year for the Lady Wildcats, as it well could be, her nine seniors finished the campaign in a thrilling come-from-behind manner.
The Lady Cats beat the visiting Lady Eagles 11-10 at Lady Wildcat Complex as senior Nicole Anaya evaded a tag from Hobbs catcher Megan Doporto in the bottom of the seventh to score the winning run.
"A win’s a win and we need wins right now, so whatever helps us is good,” Anaya said.
The selection of the 16-team playoff field for Class 5A will take place on Sunday. Thomas estimates that six squads, including her own, are in the running for the final three slots in the field.
Hobbs (13-11, 2-5 district) guaranteed itself second place in the three-team district by losing the game to Clovis by less than six runs. The Lady Cats needed to win by seven in order to have a shot at sole possession of second over Hobbs, which has a final game to play on Saturday against district leader Carlsbad.
“This is the way we needed to send our seniors out,” Thomas said. “They played very well. I told them that good teams come back — and we’re a good team.”
Twice during the game, Clovis (7-16, 2-6) recovered from significant deficits.
The Lady Eagles scored six runs in the top of the fourth and chased Clovis starter Adrianna Aguilar to go up 8-3.
In the bottom of the frame, though, Clovis’ Charolette Varney ripped an opposite-field shot into the rightfield corner. Varney raced around the bases, sending three runs in to score — including herself when she finished the inside-the-park homer.
“We had all got down, and nobody was encouraging anybody in the dugout,” said Anaya, who added that Varney’s hit changed the Clovis attitude.
In the bottom of the sixth, Clovis had fallen behind 10-6. But Stefanee Ricketson’s three-run triple to right-center cut the margin to one and she eventually scored the tying run on a wild pitch.
In the bottom of the seventh, with one out and Clovis runners at first and second, Varney hit a grounder to short. Hobbs turned one out with a throw to second, but the relay for a double play went off the glove of first baseman Jayde Burnell.
Anaya, who had started at second, raced home and tried to avoid the tag at the plate. The plate umpire didn’t make a safe or out call as Anaya went a few feet behind the base.
Realizing the play was not dead, Anaya rushed for the plate and Doporto lunged for Anaya. Finally, Anaya was ruled safe and Clovis won.
“It’s always the same here,” Hobbs coach Dean Crossland said. “He was afraid to make the call.”
While Crossland’s season is still in progress, and Clovis’ year might be over, Anaya had the final word.
“No, she (Doporto) missed me,” Anaya said. “She tried to dive at me, but I ran around her.
“It’s a good way to go. It’s always good to beat Hobbs.”