By Eric Norwood Jr.
CMI staff writer
After a heartbreaking end to last season, the Portales Lady Rams softball team is not dwelling on the past.
“When you lose a hard fought battle like the one last year it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, but the girls realize the only way to avoid it in the future is to work harder and believe in themselves,” said Lady Ram coach Robbie Crowley.
After losing to St. Michael’s 1-0 to end last season’s playoff run, the Lady Rams are reloaded and ready for another shot at a state championship. The senior-laden team returns eight of nine starters, including All-State senior catcher Simone Laurenz.
After the basketball version of the Lady Rams recent state championship in basketball, Coach Crowley believes that some of that championship experience will rub off on her girls.
“Some of these girls got a taste of what a state championship feels like from playing basketball,” Crowley said. “The girls who didn’t play were in the stands watching. That’s exactly what Portales needed, the feeling of what it is like to be a champion.”
Seniors Laurenz, Kacie Terry, Francis Armijo, Valerie Villanueva, Jasmin Vega and Mariah Lovato return for the Lady Rams. Sisters Kierstan and Kailee Ramirez return as well. Kierstan, a sophomore, will resume her position as the team’s top pitcher.
But experience will be key for the Lady Rams, which Crowley counts as one of the team’s strengths.
“Our strengths are our leadership and experience,” she said. “Six of these girls have been in the state tournament for the last three years.”
The Lady Rams opened their season on Saturday with a 6-2 victory over Amarillo High at Wheeler Park.
22 — Amarillo High (W 6-2); 28-29 — Portales tournament.
1 — at Roswell High (2), 4:30 p.m.; 3 — Clovis, 4 p.m.; 5 — vs. Rio Rancho Cleveland at Santa Rosa, 2 p.m.; 7 — at Loving (2), 3 p.m.; 12 — Hope Christian (2), noon; 15 — Ruidoso (2), 4:30 p.m.-x; 17 — at West Las Vegas (2), 3 p.m.; 19 — at Clovis, 11 a.m.; 22 — at Lovington (2), 4:30 p.m.-x; 25 — Lovington (2), 4 p.m.-x.
3 — at Ruidoso (2), noon-x.
x-Denotes District 4-3A games.