By Kevin Wilson
For the Portales girls softball team, it was a Saturday like no other. It was like most April days in Portales, with a slight wind and the sun beating down, but today was different — for when the Lady Rams arrived back in Portales that afternoon, they did it as District 4-3A softball champions.
Portales won its first district title on the strength of a sweep at Lovington, 11-7 and 7-1, and will face the District 3-3A runnerup to open the state tournament on May 13.
By being one of the top two teams in the district, which Portales had accomplished after sweeping Ruidoso on Thursday, the Lady Rams had already earned their first state tournament berth — the New Mexico Activities Association scrapped the regional tournament format and increased the state bracket to eight teams.
Still, Portales (18-8, 7-1 district) got exactly what it wanted on the road, winning twice at Lovington — a place where it had never won once in its first four seasons of existence.
“They hit the ball really well and they wanted to win district,” Portales coach Robbie Crowley said. “They knew it would be history in the making.”
Third baseman Adriana Romero has more history with the softball team than any of her teammates. The only senior on the team, Romero was a part of Portales’ back-to-back-to-back district runnerups. In each case, Portales was eliminated the following week in regionals.
“There’s almost no words to explain it,” said Romero, who batted 6-for-8 in the doubleheader. “We’ve been wanting to get Lovington for the longest time, and then to sweep them at home, it’s the sweetest taste in your mouth.”
Romero had missed the previous three weeks of action after getting hit in the eye on a throw in Artesia, but returned for Portales’ final two road doubleheaders.
Romero said that the team did a good job of sticking together and making big plays on defense, especially in the second game. Sasha Parker, who pitched all 14 innings for Portales, got defensive help when she needed it in the second game as she scattered 10 hits.
Parker allowed seven earned runs in the opening game, but the Lady Rams never trailed after jumping out to a 3-0 first inning lead.