By Eric Butler, Freedom Correspondent
FARMINGTON — Portales may have gone unbeaten in district and, yes, the Rams were the fifth-seeded team playing the 12th seed in the Class 3A softball state tournament.
So, all of those things considered, the Rams merely lived up to expectations by clobbering Wingate 15-0 on Thursday. But Portales was still quite overjoyed by the win because it was the first softball postseason victory in school history.
The last few years, Robbie Crowley’s squad has been able to make the 3A state tourney, but were eliminated in the first game each time out. Not this time, however, as Portales piled up its runs in only three innings to invoke the 15-run mercy rule and advance to the quarterfinal round.
“It feels wonderful to get that monkey off your back,” Crowley said. “It’s awesome. The girls played well; they came prepared.”
“We knew that, in the past, we came into this thing all with nerves,” said Portales leadoff hitter Amanda Terry after the victory. “That’s gotten us in the past, but we knew that if we played our game and kept our heads up that we’d come out with a win.”
Portales (18-8) actually had a no-hitter from pitcher Shareesa Nusser, who struck out five Wingate batters over the course of her three innings of work. After setting down the Bears in the top of the first inning, Nusser and her teammates started the scoring onslaught in the bottom of the frame.
Terry started the four-run first by drawing a walk and came home quickly when Janette Spotswood socked a double to center. Faulty defense and shaky pitching from Wingate helped account for the next two runs. The Rams added to the lead in the second when Nusser singled in Spotswood to go up 6-0.
Though clearly the superior team, Portales didn’t let up in the third. In a nine-run inning, the Rams got RBI-hits from Terry, Nusser and Sabrina Villanueva, who, in fact, had two run-producing singles in the same frame. No outs had been recorded when Villanueva came up for the second time in the third and stroked a single to center to score the 15th run and end the game.
“That’s been a plus with this group of kids this year. Whether they’re winning or losing, they continue to go hard through the whole game,” Crowley said.
The Rams will face fourth-seeded Robertson in a 10 a.m. start this morning at the Sports Complex in Farmington.
Wingate finished second in District 1-3A and, with the loss to Portales, ended the year with only a 7-15 overall record.
“You don’t ever take anyone for granted coming into the playoffs, because the teams that are here — they’re here because they’ve done something good,” Crowley said.