YEAR IN REVIEW: Rams relish baseball title

Portales has enjoyed much success in girls basketball and volleyball, its share of titles in football and, generally, bright spots in everything the high school has participated.

But it wasn't until 2012 that the Rams grabbed a state championship in baseball.

In the Class 3A state tournament finale, Portales faced a Cobre squad that was on an 18-game winning streak. Worse for the Rams was the fact that Portales had apparently used up ace pitcher David Rodriguez — who had just tossed a 1-0 shutout in the semifinals over Sandia Prep the day before.

But Rodriguez and his rubber arm were summoned again with the Rams up 4-3 in the fourth inning against the Indians. While Portales went on to score four more runs, Rodriguez stymied Cobre and PHS had its first baseball title.

"The kids worked hard and played hard every time out," Portales coach Arturo Ontiveros said. "You know this bunch of kids were different. They just believed they could do it."

Portales' baseball triumph was one of the most notable local sports stories in 2012, but it wasn't the only one …

  • The school got pretty close to another championship on the diamond when the Portales Lady Rams bounced back from an early-tournament upset to advance to the Class 3A softball title contest.

CMI photo: Kevin WilsonElida guard Hunter Haley goes up for a basket during the Lady Tigers' Class B title win over Corona in March. Elida has won both championships in Class B since the classification was created.

Portales was actually the top-seeded team entering the 3A state tourney. But when Lovington upended the Lady Rams early in the draw, Portales was forced to fight its way back in the consolation side of the double-elimination bracket.

Winning four games in two days, the Lady Rams eventually saw their season end 4-3 at the hands of the Silver Lady Colts.

"We went a whole season with just three losses," Portales senior pitcher Kelsey Laurenz said. "We did a lot of great things this season. As far as I'm concerned, the whole season was a state championship for us."

  • Elida's girls continued to dominate the recently formed Class B division in New Mexico high school sports as the Lady Tigers won their second straight state basketball championship last March and then a third consecutive volleyball title in November.

CMI photo: Kevin WilsonElida's Kaylen Jasso gives a gesture to the crowd symbolic of the Lady Tigers' third consecutive Class B state volleyball championship, beating Carrizozo in four games at Albuquerque for the title.

In Albuquerque last spring, Elida beat Clovis Christian in the state semifinals before knocking off Corona for the hoops crown. In Elida's 59-41 championship game win over the Lady Cardinals, Hunter Haley had 19 points and Kaylen Jasso added 14.

The city was Rio Rancho two months ago, when the Lady Tigers beat Carrizozo in the finals 21-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-17. Elida, the only girls team champion the new Class B has ever known, got 20 kills from Jasso and 16 more from Sarah Ferguson to help beat the Grizzlies.

  • Also at Portales High, a head coaching shuffle was set into motion when Mark McAfee announced in March that he would be retiring. McAfee was the school's football coach, but moreover the athletic director as well.

Jaime Ramirez, a former head coach at Loving before spending the previous four seasons as an assistant in Hobbs, was given the nod to replace McAfee on the sidelines.

As for the AD position, Mark Gallegos was picked for that spot and that opened up another coaching position as Gallegos was Portales' boys basketball coach. Succeeding Gallegos was his own assistant, Rickie McBroom, a Portales native who also had prior head coaching experience in Lordsburg.

  • Eastern New Mexico University had a new coach in a major sport as well as former ENMU player and assistant coach Josh Lynn took over as the Greyhounds' head football coach after leading New Mexico Military Institute in 2011.

Under Lynn, the Hounds finished with a 3-7 mark in his first season. Lynn succeeded Mark Ribaudo, who had coached ENMU for the previous seven years.

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