To continue to have a chance for a state playoff berth, it was almost essential for the Clovis softball team to defend its home turf against rival Hobbs on Tuesday.
The Wildcats did just that by beating the Eagles 5-1 at the Lady Wildcats Softball Park as pitcher Adrianna Aguilar allowed three hits and struck out nine Hobbs batters.
Clovis (6-11, 1-2 in District 4-5A) had just come off two doubleheader sweep losses at the hands of Roswell and district rival Carlsbad, four games in which the Wildcats had given up an average of 14 runs a contest. But junior Steffanee Ricketson said the scant practice time between the trip to Carlsbad and Tuesday night’s game was productive.
“At practice, we worked everything out and set goals for ourselves tonight and figured out what we were doing wrong,” Ricketson said. “We started connecting as a team and we did real good, talking and hitting the ball today.”
Ricketson, who was 3-for-3 at the plate, did particularly well with the bat. She was right in the middle of a four-run rally in the bottom of the third inning that included six straight Clovis hits.
Hobbs (10-7, 0-1) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when a blooper to right field by Cassie Edwards scored Alex Fuentes, who had walked after Aguilar had struck out the first two Eagles batters.
However, Clovis struck right back.
In the bottom of the frame, senior Jasiman Dykes started the big rally by poking a single through the left side of the infield. Senior Brittany Mascarenas singled to left off Eagles’ pitcher Evelyn Duarte and Ricketson stroked a single to center to score both runners for a 2-1 Clovis lead.
“She (Duarte) slowed down a lot from last year,” Ricketson said.
Cassie Nelson kept the rally going with a double to left-center to score Ricketson and Vanessa Gallegos blasted a shot off the bottom of the fence for a 4-1 advantage.
“We didn’t even touch a bat yesterday. We just worked on defense,” said Clovis coach Brandi Thomas, whose team did not commit an error in the field. “I told them that we had to start having confidence in ourselves, play the mental game and actually come together as a team.”
As for Aguilar, who was bruised up in her previous three outings at pitcher, she seemed comfortable protecting the lead.
“That (rally) helped us start accomplishing some of our goals,” Thomas said. “All year long, we’ve worked from behind. We worked from behind here, by one run, but they didn’t lose the confidence in themselves.”
Clovis 5, Hobbs 1
Hobbs 001 000 0 - 1 3 1
Clovis 004 010 - 5 12 0
Pitching: C, Adrianna Aguilar and Kayla Merritt; H, Evelyn Duarte and Jayde Burnell. Win: Aguilar. Loss: Duarte. Leading Hitters: C, Steffanee Ricketson 3-3 2B 2RBI, Jasiman Dykes 2-2, Vanessa Gallegos 2-3 2B 1RBI, Charlotte Varney 2-3; H, Alex Fuentes 1-1 2B, Burnell 1-3, Cassie Edwards 1-3. Rec.: C 6-11, 1-2 in 4-5A; H 10-7, 0-1.