Portales senior Santana Brito fields a grounder at practice Tuesday at Portales Junior High. The Lady Rams open the season on March 3rd in the Clovis Invitational Tournament. (PNT staff photo: Jesse Wolfersberger)
Last season, the Portales Lady Rams won district for the first time in their history. However, the memory of that accomplishment is overshadowed by a crushing 14-0 loss in the first round of the state tournament.
“It was embarrassing,” Junior Sharessa Nusser said. “You didn’t know quite what to expect. With our experience, we won’t be as nervous. With the experience we have now, I think we have a good chance of taking district and state.”
The Lady Rams lost only one senior, third basemen Adriana Romero, from last year’s squad so optimism for a better run in the state tournament is high.
“We definitely want to go farther,” Portales coach Robbie Crowley said. “Our biggest problem last year was inexperience at the state level.”
Crowley said the experience her team got last season will help this year’s team contend for a state title.
“When it’s a tight ball game and you can handle that pressure, then the experience pays off,” Crowley said. “When it’s a tight ball game and your pitcher steps on the mound and has no problems — that’s definitely the experience from last year.”
Junior catcher Jessica Adkins said the 14-0 loss to Grants was tough, but that will motivate the Lady Rams to do better in 2006.
“Last year we worked our butts off to win district, then lost in state,” Adkins said. “We’ve been there and we’ve seen how it is.”
Crowley said the team has strong pitching and good fielding, but still has work to do on offense.
“We generally field really well,” Crowley said. “The problem with our hitting is we don’t have a feeder program. Any hitting they get, (high school) is where they get it.”
This will be the sixth year for the softball program and Crowley said she can tell its come a long way.
“We’re returning a lot of kids,” Crowley said. “We’re getting to a point with the program where it’s not just one pitcher and one catcher — we ran out of catcher’s equipment today (at practice). It’s getting to the point where they’re competing for positions.”
Crowley said there are so many returning starters, she did not want to single out anyone as the team’s key player.
Junior pitcher Sasha Parker said the team’s chemistry can help them improve on last year’s 18-9 record.
“Our biggest strength is that we work together,” Sasha Parker said. “We know we can accomplish our goals this year if we work together hard. We’re strong as a team.”
The Lady Rams kick off the season March 3 in the Clovis Invitational Tournament.