By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
Portales softball coach Robbie Crowley and her girls are determined to get past the Class 3A state tournament first-round game, their stumbling block last year against Santa Fe Indian School.
“We were leading that game and we ended up losing in the last two innings,” Crowley said. “We had the game won and we just kind of let it go.”
One year later, the Lady Rams are ready to hit the diamond, stocked with 10 seniors.
“This year we have high expectations,” Crowley said. “(Our seniors) have had three years experience in varsity, most of them, and we expect big things (like) a district championship and a state championship.”
One of those seniors is pitcher Sasha Parker.
“This year is our last year,” Parker said about the seniors. “I’m real pumped and we’re all working together really hard because we all have that same goal in mind that we want to accomplish before we graduate.”
Parker skipped playing basketball to rehab a back injury suffered last year, and she says she’s ready.
“I didn’t want to risk my chance at pitching (this year),” Parker said. “I knew I had a big position I had to fill and help the team with.”
Crowley is quick to point out her pride in the Lady Rams starting pitching this season.
“We have really strong pitching, and a strong defense. We expect perfection from them,” Crowley said.
Along with Parker, Crowley is excited about the Portales number two pitcher Shareesa Nusser.
“We’ve been very fortunate (with our pitchers),” Crowley said. “Shareesa and Sasha started as eighth graders … and they’ve really developed into good pitchers.”
Fellow senior and Portales out-fielder Danielle Vasquez sounded off on the Lady Rams chances as well.
“We have a really good defense,” Vasquez said. “Our batting is there, and we’ll just keep improving on the hitting throughout the season.”
The Portales girls also play a daunting pre-district schedule that includes stops at Jal, Roswell High, and in the annual Artesia tournament at the end of March.
“If you play people that are going to give you competition, it’s only going to make you better,” Crowley said. “We have a tough schedule.”
The Lady Rams begin their season Friday at the Clovis softball tournament lasting through Saturday.
“I know it’s our first tournament,” Crowley said. “And we have some younger kids playing and I still expect my older kids to step up and really help them and show them and guide them and lead them. We expect to win, we have the capabilities of going and winning that tournament.”