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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, February 23, 2007

Teams at home for Pecos Jr. Relays Friday

While the Pecos Eagle varsity track team heads to Fort Stockton for their season opening meet on Saturday, Crockett’s junior high track teams will be staying at home on Friday for their 2007 season opener, the West of the Pecos Junior Relays.

Eight teams are entered in the meet, including district rivals Monahans and Fort Stockton, along with Andrews, Kermit, Alpine and Crane. The meet is scheduled to get underway at 4 p.m. and will be run as timed finals for both the seventh and eighth grade boys and girls.

The junior high teams will have only four meets this season, two of them at home. They’ll host the district track meet on April 5, and will go to Kermit and Andrews on March 8 and 22.

Pecos hosting 3A playoff games

Pecos High School will host a pair of Class 3A area round playoff games this Friday and Saturday, featuring four of the Pecos Eagles’ former district rivals.

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Athletic Director Chris Henson said at 7 p.m. on Friday, District 3-3A champ Midland Greenwood will take on Clint, the District 1-3A third place team, in an area round playoff game, while at 4 p.m. on Saturday, District 1-3A champ Fabens will face the winner of Thursday’s bi-district game between Lamesa and Seminole.

Clint advanced to Friday’s game with a 42-32 bi-district win on Wednesday night over Pecos’ current District 3-3A rival, Presidio, while Greenwood received a first round playoff bye. Fabens also drew a bye in the opening round.

District 1-3A also won the other bi-district playoff game on Wednesday, as Tornillo jumped out to an early lead and then held on to defeat Monahans 51-50. Meanwhile, District 2-3A champ Fort Stockton, which drew a first round bye, will take on Levelland this weekend in their area round match. Levelland advanced with a 45-40 win over Snyder on Wednesday in their bi-district match-up.

Track teams to be shorthanded for ’07 opener

The Pecos Eagles track team will be starting their 2007 season this Saturday in Fort Stockton at the Comanche Relays, though a large part of the track squad will be involved in other events this weekend, according to coaches Robbie Ortega and Donna Gent.

The final powerlifting meet of the 2007 regular season on Saturday in McCamey, along with a varsity softball tournament and a baseball game in the El Paso area this weekend will mean both squads will be shorthanded for the meet, which begins with preliminaries and the 3200 meter finals around 9:30 a.m. Field events are scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., with the running finals to start at 4 p.m. with the 400 meter relay.

Of the two teams, Gent said her girls would have the bigger number of absences. “It looks like I’m going to be lucky to have maybe 10 girls,” she said. “We have 28 girls out doing track, but out of those 28, 20 are in softball, and I’ve got about five who are in powerlifting and track.”

She said some of her girls also have been sick this week and probably wouldn’t make the trip to Fort Stockton.

Among those absent will be senior Chantel Mazone, a state qualifier from a year ago in the discus, placing sixth in Austin, and the other returning regional qualifier from a year ago, sprinter Jasmine Rayos. Gent will have juniors Heather and Kathryn Lamka in the distances races. Both qualified for regionals two years ago, but missed out in 2006.

Of those who will be making the trip, Gent said, “We’ll have Michelle Contreras as our sprinter, and Olivia Castijella will be our hurdler and Andriel Martinez will also due the hurdles.”

She said Samantha Villarreal and Angel Millan will be Pecos’ discus and shot put entries with Mazone absent, and for this week she wasn’t planning to field any relay teams or have anyone in the jumping events.

Ortega will have a few more people to choose from, including seniors Larry Johnson and Lucas Macha. Johnson placed fourth last season at district in the 400 meter dash, just missing a regional berth, and for this year, Ortega said, “We’re going to try Larry in the 800. I think he has a shot at making it all the way out to state.”

He said Johnson will run the 400 as well, while Macha probably would also be in those races. “Matthew Florez just came out from swimming, so he’s not going to run any relays this week; probably just the 400.”

In the hurdles, Ortega said he’ll have Hector Ramirez, Matthew Rodriguez and Wayne Sparkman, and Ramirez would also run in the sprint relay. “Hector’s been looking really good for us in practice,” he said, adding that another sophomore, Jeremy Martinez, would also be a member of the relay teams.

“Our throwers are going to be real young. We’ve got Brian Navarette and Robert Herrera,” Ortega said. “Brian got a little taste of varsity last year, and Robert’s a freshman, so we’ll see how he handles it.”

Like Gent, Ortega said the Eagles won’t field any jumpers this weekend. “We’ll have some long jumper and probably Larry as a high jumper by the end of the season,” he said. “We won’t have any pole vaulters this year on the varsity. We’ll have one (freshman Weston Grant), but he’ll be a JVer.”

The Eagles’ track roster figures to be a little bit better for next weekend’s West of the Pecos Relays, while the chances of earning regional berths will be a lot better this year, thanks to the UIL’s realignment that left District 2-3A with only four teams, three fewer than in district the past two seasons.

Fort Stockton will host the 2-3A championships on April 10 & 12, while the Eagles’ other scheduled meets right now are the West Texas Relays on March 9-10 in Odessa, the Golden Crane relays in Crane on April 5, and the San Angelo Relays for the boys and Permian Basin Relays for the girls, in San Angelo and Kermit on March 30-31.

The Eagles currently have an open date the week prior to that, due to the cancellation of this year’s Sandhills Relays in Monahans for the installation of a new track and Field Turf surface at the Loboes’ football stadium. Ortega said Pecos was still looking at filling that open date.

Pitching problems plague Pecos in opener

New head coach Eric Garcia got his first look at the 2007 Pecos Eagles baseball team under game conditions Monday night. And he got to look at a few more pitchers than he hoped for, in the Eagles’ season opener against the Greenwood Rangers.

The 2007 season opened for Pecos about the way the 2006 ended, with a three-run homer by Logan Bawcom putting the Rangers ahead to stay Monday night, as Greenwood scored seven times against three Eagle pitchers in the sixth inning to wipe out a 5-3 Pecos lead and win by a 10-5 final score.

“We’ve got to start throwing first pitch strikes. That’s what hurt us,” said Garcia. “I told him (reliever Kenny Rayos) to keep it low on him, but he hung it up there and he parked it.”

The homer by Bawcom, who did the same in the Rangers’ playoff win last May over Pecos, made a winner out of reliever Dean Smith, who retired the side in order in the top of the seventh. It was the only 1-2-3 inning on a night that both teams’ pitchers struggled with their control.

For the Eagles, starter Vincent Palomino and reliever Isaiah Rayos were able to get through the first five innings despite falling behind batters. But after Chad Caver walked on four pitches and Colton Wilbur singled on the next pitch from Rayos to lead off the sixth, Isaiah Rayos was replaced by Kenny Rayos on the mound. He fell behind 3-1 before Bawcom sent one over the fence in right to give Greenwood a 6-5 lead.

Rayos and Robert Nunez would continue to fall behind in the count after that, while allowing four more runs, but the Eagles’ defense also fell apart after Bawcom’s homer, committing three errors that helped the Rangers score their final two runs.

“I can’t say I was pleased, because we’ve got to put away a game like that,” Garcia said. “But it was a great game for us for the first five innings. I thought we pretty much dominated the game and made the plays we had to in key situations. But then we just had the wheels fall off.”

Both Wilbur, who started on the mound, and Smith had their problems with the top of Pecos’ batting order until the seventh, due in part to their own control problems. Wilbur almost survived the first inning unharmed, getting John Paul Salcido to hit into a double play after walking leadoff batter Lucas Chavez. But then he walked Jose Chavez, and after a wild pitch, Kenny Rayos followed with an RBI double and then scored on Isaiah Rayos’ single.

With one out in the third, Pecos scored twice more, as Jose Chavez reached on an infield single, moved up on Kenny Rayos’ bloop single to left, and both scored on Isaiah Rayos’ double to centerfield. Smith came on in the fourth and survived walks to Palomino and Salcido and a hit by Timo Reyes, when he got Jose Chavez to line into a one-out double play. But he walked Kenny Rayos to open the fifth and then saw Isaiah Rayos pick up his fourth RBI of the night with his second double of the game.

Greenwood used a two-out walk to Bawcom and a double down the line in left by Smith to get a run in the first inning off Palomino, who allowed two more singles, two more walks and hit Williams with pitches twice over the next 2 1/3 innings, but left the game with a 4-1 lead in his varsity pitching debut.

Palomino got Eric Baugh to fly out with two on to end the first inning, did the same to Wilbur to end the second, and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the third with two away by getting Cruz Apodaca to hit a grounder to Salcido, who threw to Rayos for a force out at second base.

Garcia, who has six returning starters, but takes over a team that lost its top three pitchers from a year ago, said Palomino pitched well, but also threw a lot of pitches. “He said his arm was starting to get tired, so I took him out,” the Eagles’ coach said.

Isaiah Rayos moved in from shortstop to the mound to start the fourth and walked Noe Rodriguez, hit Caver with a pitch and gave up a single to Wilbur when Jose Chavez, now at short, was screened out from the ball by Rodriguez. But Chavez then turned a double play on a Bawcom grounder, as Rodriguez scored, and got Smith to ground out to Salcido at second to end the inning to make it a 4-2 game.

After the Eagles made it 5-2, the Rangers got that run back in the bottom of the fifth when Baugh doubled with one out and Apodaca singled off Salcido’s glove with two away. Those were two of the four hits on the night by the bottom four batters in Greenwood’s order, while all eight of Pecos’ hits came from the top five batters in the order.

“We hit the ball pretty well overall, but the bottom of the order is going to have to pick it up,” said Garcia.

The Eagles were scheduled to follow up Monday’s season opener with their home opener on Friday against Greenwood’s District 3-3A rival Snyder. However, Garcia said the Tigers cancelled that game due to a possible conflict with the Class 3A basketball playoffs.

Instead, Pecos’ next game will be at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Fabens against the Wildcats, coached by former Eagles’ head coach Elias Payan. The cancellation of Friday’s game also means Pecos won’t play a home game for another month, until their open District 3-3A play on March 23 against the Fort Stockton Panthers. Pecos then hosts Fort Stockton the following day.

Greenwood also defeated the Eagles gold junior varsity team in their season opener on Monday, by a 17-14 final score. The JV purple team won’t start its 2007 season until Saturday, when they and the gold team play a home doubleheader against Kermit.

Eagles rally past Jackets, head for EP tourney

The Pecos Eagles’ softball team had an unexpected youth movement in their starting infield on Tuesday, in their 2007 home opener against the Kermit Yellowjackets.

The Eagles had to go without senior pitcher Amalie Herrera, after she injured her pitching hand in practice on Monday. That moved sophomore Gabby Garcia to the mound and forced coach Tammy Walls to make some other changes to her infield that resulted in some problems in the early going against Kermit.

The Jackets took advantage to score three times in the first inning, and then added five more runs in the fifth for an 8-2 lead, after the Eagles had cut the lead to one. But Pecos was able to rally in their half of the fifth and cut Kermit’s back to one run, and after giving up another run in the top of the sixth, scored three times in the bottom of the inning for an 11-9 win, their third straight to start the season.

The Eagles were going to try and stay unbeaten beginning on Thursday morning, when they took on El Paso Chapin in the opening round of the El Paso Jefferson Tournament. The Eagles had an afternoon game against Cobre, N.M., and were to face Amarillo Caprock in their final pool round game at 8 p.m. CST on Thursday, to determine Friday’s bracket seeding.

First and fourth place finishers in the Eagles’ pool will play their opening round games in the 16-team tournament at 11:45 a.m. on Friday, while the second place team starts on Friday at 10 a.m. and the third place finisher plays its first game on Friday at 1:30 p.m. Walls said Herrera would probably be off the mound at least a week after taking a line drive off her fingers on Monday, though she might be able to play another position and bat before then. Because of the injury, Garcia ended up pitching, while freshman Allyson Salcido took her place at second base.

“We started five sophomores and a freshman on the infield,” said Garcia, and Kermit took advantage at the start, as Natalie and Lucero Porras reached on bunt singles when no one got over to first in time to take throws from Garcia. Both then scored on Jackie Salcido’s double, and the Jackets made it 3-0 on an error by Brittany Palomino at shortstop and a pair of four-pitch walks with two outs by Garcia.

“We made some young mistakes on the infield, but I thought the kids showed a lot of heart,” Walls said. “Gabby had some control problems, but then she came back and found her groove and started hitting the corners.”

Kermit’s Lauren Nutt had her own problems with the strike zone in the bottom of the first, walking Jenny and Brittany Palomino, then allowing a run to score on a bad pickoff throw to second base. But she would settle down and get the next three hitters. Pecos would get another run in the second, as Claire Weinacht scored following a lead-off single, but Nutt would shut the Eagles out over the next two innings and in the top of the fifth, Kermit would score five times.

Two errors and singles by the Porrases, Ashley Awbrey and Iris Flores helped Kermit get their runs, but the Eagles would then come back and score five times in their half of the inning.

A leadoff error by Flores at second allowed Aileen Rayos to reach base, and she was then safe at second and third on a Jenny Palomino fielder’s choice grounder to third and a sacrifice bunt by Brittany Palomino. Lily Jaramillo then followed with a two run single to right field, with Brittany Palomino moving to third on the throw. She would go to second on a wild pitch, and Palomino scored when Nutt missed the throw back to home plate. One out later, Bianca Baeza walked, and both runners would score on a single by Kristen Ikeler.

Nutt would then get two strike outs to end the inning, and Kermit made it 9-7 in the sixth on another Natalie Porras bunt single, a passed ball third strike on Lucero Porras, and an RBI ground out by Porras. Awbrey then reached on an error by Jenny Palomino to load the bases, but Ikeler would throw out Lucero Porras at home on a bouncer to third to help Garcia get out of trouble.

Rayos would again open the sixth inning, and reached base on a walk. She stole second and went to third on a throwing error by Salcido at catcher and scored on Jenny Palomino’s sacrifice fly. Brittany Palomino then singled, and after Nutt got Jaramillo on a pop up, Garcia tied the game with a double down the line in left. She would score the go-ahead run on a single to center by Baeza, who would then score on a bad pickoff throw to second by Salcido that then went through Lucero Porras’ legs in center field.

Garcia would allow a two-out walk in the top of the seventh, but would strike out Natalie Porras to end the game, as she missed another bunt attempt and then was tagged out on a dropped ball third strike in a collision with Weinacht.

“It wasn’t a pretty sight, but it was a win,” said Walls, who added on Wednesday, “We worked on bunt coverage all practice. They should know every possibility now.”

Walls said she would still be making lineup adjustments this weekend in an effort to get more bats into the lineup, starting with Thursday’s game with Chapin, last year’s District 1-4A champion. Amarillo Caprock, the Eagles’ final opponent on Thursday, was the third place team out of District 3-4A a year ago.

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