By Kevin Wilson
Thanks to a conversation with Wes King early in the Portales High softball season, junior Kassandra Richards may throw Lovington for a curve this weekend.
“I said, ‘You can’t throw a curve with a softball,’” Richards said of her conversation with King, who pitched for the Ram baseball team, “and he said, ‘Yes, you can.’”
Whether or not King is right might be proven Friday at City Softball Park, when the Lady Rams host Lovington in a District 4-3A doubleheader starting at 4 p.m.
The curveball has already crossed sports, before it has even been used in a game. Members of the PHS tennis team didn’t believe a curveball was possible, so Richards showed them with her normal underhanded motion — plus a flick of the wrist.
Portales coach Robbie Crowley plans to have Richards use the new pitch at some point in the doubleheader, joking that she will actually create a sign exclusively for that purpose.
Whether the curveball is a success or an abysmal failure, Friday is the perfect time to try it. The doubleheader has no bearing on playoff positioning, as Lovington has wrapped up the 4-3A title and Portales is locked into the runner-up slot.
Realistically, Portales is just preparing for the playoffs, and Crowley thinks the idle time has been used well.
“We’re playing the same as we have,” Crowley said following Wednesday’s practice. “We probably had one of our best practices of the year today, honestly.”
Portales will most likely face Bernalillo in next weekend’s regional tournaments. The Lady Rams faced Bernalillo in last season’s regionals, but are matched up with them again due to the district shifting that pushed St. Michael’s into District 4-3A.
A Lady Ram victory at Bernalillo could be classified as an upset, since the Lady Spartans return the nucleus of the team that ended Portales’ 2002 season. Still, Crowley likes her team’s chances in a one-and-done situation.
“I think we’re starting to peak,” Crowley said. “That’s what we told the kids today. We’re cutting down on the errors, and if you’re going to compete at the state championship level, you can’t make errors.”