PHS opens state softball tourney at home

By Dave Wagner: PNT sports writer

Sasha Parker has gotten used to pitching doubleheaders, but she’s looking forward to having just one game today.

The Portales High junior will face Santa Fe Indian School today in Class 3A state softball tournament’s round of 16 at PHS.

Parker has carried the pitching load for the Lady Rams (15-11) since fellow junior Shareesa Nusser went down with a knee injury in a season-opening tournament in Clovis. She’s helped keep her team on the plus side of .500, but admittedly it’s been a challenge.

“It’s a little more relaxing,” Parker said Thursday of single-game duty. “You don’t have to hold back (just) because you’re going to have to spread it out over 14 innings.”

PHS coach Robbie Crowley said having just one game should help Parker.

“The thing about Sasha is she knows she just has to throw one game,” Crowley said. “I really think she’s ready.”

Today’s winner advances to quarterfinal play next Thursday in Las Cruces. The semifinals and championship game follow the next two days.

PHS coach Robbie Crowley said she still doesn’t have a lot of knowledge about the Lady Braves, a first-time opponent.

“They’re going to be tough,” Crowley said. “The bottom line is we have to come out and be ready to play.”

Crowley said the Lady Rams, who are coming of a 2-1 loss in eight innings on Monday at Artesia, have had three consecutive good days of practice since then with everybody on hand.

“We haven’t had that since pre-district,” she noted.

Crowley said sisters Kaylina and Wanda Abeya, daughters of coach Paul Abeyta, handle most of the Lady Braves’ pitching. Their top hitter is junior Shalana Gachuipin.

“We’ve heard they can be a tough team,” Crowley said. “They’re like us — I think if we show up and play to our potential, we can be a tough team.”

The Lady Rams hope to get their bats going after scoring just one run at Artesia.

“We’ve been working on our hitting pretty hard,” Parker said. “I think we’ll do pretty good if we just stay together as a team.”