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for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, March 10, 2006

Pecos overpowers Kermit in home opener

After taking first place in the Wood Bat Tournament at Sweetwater last weekend, it’s hard to say the Pecos Eagles were being bothered by a really bad hitting slump going into Tuesday night’s game against the Kermit Yellowjackets. But the Eagles did make life a lot easier on their pitchers, thanks to a six run second inning, followed by three home runs that led to six more runs and an eventual 12-4 victory.

“At the beginning of the year we started off hot, but then we went cold. But we’re starting to get hot again,” said Eagles’ coach Elias Payan. “We’re still not playing our best ball. There are some things we need to do to be more disciplined hitters.”

Pecos hit four home runs in three games while winning the season-opening Ozona Tournament, then went homerless until late in the title game at Sweetwater, when Jonathan Garcia provided the Eagles’ final run in a 4-1 victory.

On Tuesday, Jose Chavez and Edward Valencia took pitcher Santos Sauceda deep in the fifth inning, and Eddie Vela added a three-run homer in the sixth inning, after Kermit had cut Pecos’ lead at one point to 6-3.

The win improved Pecos’ record to 7-1-1 going into the West Texas March Classic on Thursday in Midland. Payan said Pecos’ first game was set for 10 a.m. against Tornillo at Christensen Stadium, followed by a 1 p.m. contest against Midland Lee’s junior varsity at Citibank Ballpark.

Robert Nunez, who pitched Saturday’s title game win over Brownwood, got the start against Kermit and lasted until two outs in the fourth, leaving after allowing his fourth single of the inning, this one to Duane McDaniel, that cut the Eagles’ lead to three. Kermit missed a chance in the top of the second to take a 1-0 lead when Garcia threw out Lane Hill trying to score from second on Austin Grubbs’ two out single. Nunez allowed only a two out walk in the third before running into problems in the fourth.

Valencia came on and got Freddy Castillo for the final out, and Chavez opened the bottom of the inning with his first home run of the season, over the trees in left field, for a 7-3 Pecos lead. Two outs later, and after an error by Castillo on a Vela grounder, Valencia hit his third home run of the year, a line drive over the fence in left-centerfield.

Vela’s homer in the sixth also came with two away, after Miguel Estrada was hit by a pitch and Chavez singled to center off Sauceda, who went the distance for the Jackets. Vela had been stranded on third in the first inning, after he singled and Isaiah Rayos doubled off Sauceda with one out, but a throwing error by the pitcher in the second opened things up for Pecos to score six times.

A one-out walk to Garcia and single by Chris Garnto was followed by a Luis Licon sacrifice bunt that Sauceda threw away, allowing Garcia to score. Chavez followed with a two-run double and after a Vela ground out and a walk to Rayos, Josh Anchondo singled Chavez home. Rayos would score on a passed ball by catcher Joaquin Gonzales, and Valencia then doubled to left-centerfield to make it 6-0.

An error by Kenny Rayos at first base in the fourth inning help Kermit get their final two runs off Nunez, while a bad pickoff throw in the fifth by Valencia set up the Jackets’ final run, on a Sauceda ground out.

“There were a couple of times I though we could have picked their kids off second base when we didn’t,” said Payan. ”We’ve got to work on that, but we’re going to do better. We’re still going to make some errors, but they’re not going to be ones that hurt us.”

Valencia went 2 1/3 innings and got the victory, and is 3-0 on the season, while Anchondo pitched a scoreless seventh. “He hasn’t had much work on the mound, so I thought I would get them an inning of work,” said Payan of Anchondo, who along with Estrada and Geno Leos were ineligible for the first week of the season.

Payan said Leos would probably pitch Thursday’s tournament opener in Midland against Tornillo. Pecos will then play O’Donnell and Iowa Park in the final seeding games at the eight-team tournament, which was revised from the original schedule, due to limitations on use of Citibank Ballpark. Both of Friday’s games, at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., are at Christensen Stadium.

Greenwood, Tyler Chapel Hill and Eldorado are the other teams in the tournament, which runs through Saturday, and are the final games for Pecos before starting District 3-3A play at home on Tuesday versus Fort Stockton.

Girls’ powerlifters fall short, boys go to regionals

The Pecos Eagle boys’ powerlifting team will be trying to earn trips to the state powerlifting competition this weekend in Brownfield, after Pecos’ girls fell short of earning any state spots last weekend in their Region I meet in Abilene.

“We had one do her personal best, and the others competed real well, but we’re just real young,” said coach Fred Howard about the meet, which was won by Clyde.

Howard said Marissa Lyles had her best meet, with a combined 710-pound lift. “She improved her squats with 70 pounds, and dead lifted 310 and bench pressed 330,” Howard said.

“I’m proud of the way all our girls did, but we’re young. When I’ve started a program in some other places it’s been with older lifters. With our girls, we’re working everybody on new things every week,” Howard said. “We didn’t have any state qualifiers, but we came close, and I’ve got all the girls coming back next year.”

“I’m fortunate to have some experienced lifters to work with on the boys’ side,” said Howard, as several Eagles participated last year, and Ruben Salgado just missed earning a trip to state in 2005.

He goes into the regional meet Saturday morning seeded first among all lifters in his 242-pound weight class, while Albert Lopez is sixth and Mason Baeza and Michael Lee are tied for seventh. Howard said Eli Hinojos is seeded fourth in the 132-pound weight class, while Elias Valenzuela is sixth at 114 pounds, Chris Navarette is eighth at 275 pounds, and Lamberto Herrera is 10th at 165 pounds.

“I’ve seen eighth or ninth place kids go to state, because other people bomb out (on lifts) because they’re pushing their lifts to make it to state,” Howard said.

Weigh-ins for the team are scheduled on Friday, with the meet set for Saturday morning at the Brownfield High School gym.

Ex-Eagle Herrera earns honors for NMSU softball

Former Pecos Eagles softball player Stephanie Herrera has received two honors during the first month of the season for New Mexico State University, and currently leads the 17-7 Aggies in hitting as the team’s starting shortstop.

The sophomore was named Xbox Live WAC Player of the Week for February 13, after batting .615 (8 for 13) in five games, along with her first career home run in NMSU’s season-opening 4-0 win over Colorado State. She hit safely in all five games in which she played.

Herrera was also named to the all-tournament team for last month’s Hilton Las Cruces Invitational, batting .600 during tournament play. In their most recent tournament, NMSU won the University of Central Florida Tournament, beating the home team by a 4-0 score. Herrera scored the second run of the game, and contributed a single to the Aggies’ final run of the game in the fifth inning.

She currently leads the team with a .368 average and is third on the team in RBI with 10. Herrera was named to the all-district team for Pecos in all four seasons with the Eagles, advancing to the playoffs three of those seasons. She started at shortstop as a freshman, before moving to pitcher for her final 3 1/2 seasons.

Grand slam helps Eagles rout Tornadoes, 12-2

Once they got through the top of the first inning, all the key plays broke the Pecos Eagles’ way Tuesday afternoon, in their District 3-3A softball opener against the Lamesa Golden Tornadoes.

Lamesa took advantage of a one-out error in the first inning to score twice, on Treliee Williams’ two out single. But the Eagles used an error in the bottom of the first to get on the scoreboard, and then tied the game on Jessica Florez’s RBI single, before Florez connected in the second inning of Ali Borrego on a grand-slam home run that helped send the Eagles on to a five-inning, 12-2 victory.

“Baserunning and defense as two things we need to work on,” said Eagles’ coach Tammy Walls, who was upset that the Eagles made an error an inning on the infield during the game. But only the one in the first inning - a dropped infield pop-up by Florez near the first base line - ended up hurting Pecos, as pitcher Amalie Herrera was able to get out of trouble over the next four innings.

Jaci Bara started on the mound for Lamesa, but left after Florez’s game-tying single. Ali Borrego, whose three-run homer in Pecos last year carries the Tors to an 11-5 win, came on and got out of trouble by turning a Vanessa Valeriano line drive into an inning-ending double play. But she walked Kristen Ikeler, Bianca Baeza and Cassandra Terrazas with one out, and after the Eagles missed a chance to score when Ikeler failed to tag up on a Herrera fly out to left field, Florez sent a 2-2 pitch from Borrego over the fence in centerfield for her second home run of the season.

“I was telling her where to go, but she got anxious,” said Walls. “That’s a freshman mistake, and Jessica made up for it. But in a close game, we need to have that run.”

Herrera would get Bara to bounce out with runners in scoring position in the third, and the Eagles added another run in the bottom of the inning after Valeriano reached on an error by K.D. Clement at first base and came around to score on two-out singles by Ikeler and Baeza.

Valeriano would turn a double play on a Krista Hernandez line drive in the fourth, after a one-out error by Gaby Garcia on a Julie Guerra grounder, and in the bottom of the inning the Eagles added four more runs. Savannah Ewing singled home Terrazas and Florez after they singled, and she later scored on an error by Erika Rodriguez on a Valeriano grounder. She would score on a stolen base, throwing error by Bara at catcher and another throwing error by Borrego on a grounder to the pitcher before finally retiring the side. Lamesa was then unable to score in the fifth despite getting their first two runners on, and in the bottom of the inning Pecos ended the game under the 10-run rule when Herrera singled with two out, stole second and moved to third on a passed ball, then scored when Rodriguez couldn’t handle Florez’s grounder.

“They had problems after Jessica’s homer, but we’ve got to do better on defense,” said Walls. “Defensively, with my outfield I feel pretty confident, but the infield has to improve. They’re certainly capable of making the plays, but they’re getting anxious and booting the ball when they’re fielding it or not throwing it right.”

Florez has the only two home runs for the Eagles so far this season, with the other coming at the Crane Tournament, where she was named to the all-tournament team, along with Hinojos and Ewing. The Eagles, now 13-3 on the season, also scored a 7-3 win at the tournament over Seminole, the team they’ll be facing at 5 p.m. on Friday, in Pecos’ first road game of the District 3-3A schedule. The Indians dropped their district opener on Tuesday to Monahans, while Greenwood shut out Presidio on Monday, 14-0, in the other 3-3A opener.

“Seminole’s a lot better than they were last year. They hit better and they’re better defensively,” said Walls. “Coach Vaughn is a good coach and she’s going to get that program in place to be successful.”

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