South All-Stars Kat Crawley (left) and Kayleigh Montano, both of Mayfield, give a high-five after defeating the North 5-0 in the North/South All-stars softball game on Saturday. (Staff photo: Andy DeLislie)
By Eric Butler: CNJ Correspondent
The North/South All-Star Softball Series came to a close on Saturday and the South players went home with some measure of satisfaction. A 5-0 victory over the North at least kept the South from being swept in the three-game series as the North squad had already won both of the first two games, played on Friday night at the Lady Wildcat Softball Field in Clovis.
“Yesterday was a little disappointing. We wanted to prove that we are just as talented as the North,” said Mayfield’s Kayleigh Montano, who pitched the South to the third-game shutout and went 3-for-3 at the plate in the process.
Still, the overall result was a series win for the North — the second straight for the upper half of the state. The victory was only the North’s sixth in 19 attempts.
Montano, who will play at the University of Maine next year, drove in the first run of the lone South victory with a single in the second that scored Gadsden’s Vanessa Valles. The South tacked on another run, for a 2-0 lead, when Las Cruces’ Jessica Apodaca doubled home Montano in the fifth.
Still, the South at that point had only three hits against Piedra Vista’s Julie Lovato. In the sixth, three consecutive RBI-singles to left by Montano, Carlsbad’s Savana Littlebear and Mayfield’s Kat Crawley finally broke open the game for the South.
St. Michael’s Ron Noedel, coach for the North squad, said he was still more than happy with the pitching prowess on his team. In Friday night’s twinbill sweep, West Mesa’s Gabriella Parra and La Cueva’s Kelly Curran — winning pitchers for the last two Class 5A state champions — hurled the North to the sweep.
“We were deep in pitching. We didn’t even get (Del Norte’s Jessica) Redhouse in there, Cheryl Torres from Los Lunas is a heck of a pitcher too,” Noedel said.
The North won the Friday night doubleheader 7-6 and 9-0. While the second contest wasn’t really one, thanks to a seven-run outburst by the North in the third, the opener went to extra innings before it was decided.
South coach Duane Trewern pointed to a sterling eighth-inning throw by North MVP Jessica Redhouse, who gunned down Silver’s Jennifer Cardenas at third base from right field, as a crucial point of the first game — and the series.
“I kind of wanted to hold (Kayleigh Montano) until the end, I was hoping this would be the deciding game today — and it was close,” Trewern said. “If we had won the first game, it would have been the decider. Jessica Redhouse made a tremendous play to take the threat away. I give her credit, because she played outstanding.”
Trewern also had high praise for the Clovis hosts of the series. It was the fourth year the Clovis has put on the all-star event, which was held exclusively in Carlsbad prior to 2003.
“Clovis is a class act. Coach Brandi Thomas and the Rotary Club here, man they just treated us like royalty the whole time,” Trewern said. “It made life real easy for us and we appreciate that.”