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Swing is king for Lady Ram softball

Kelly Parkey jokes that she wouldn’t be a great pitcher for the Portales girls softball team, but she’d take the mound in a heartbeat.

The 5-foot-6 senior is comfortable playing shortstop for the Lady Rams, and she’s also comfortable with fellow senior Kassadra Richards pitching, but she’d be willing to do just about anything for her team to go out with a state title.

“Personally, I just want to get better and do my best,” Parkey said. “As a team, we want to go undefeated in district and win state.”

The Portales girls get started on their season goals today, as they face Loving on the road in a 3 p.m. doubleheader. The fourth-year club has made it as far as regionals in each of the last two seasons, but was turned away by Bernalillo both times.

Whether or not the Portales girls can get past regionals, or get out of district, or top last season’s 8-14 record, depends on the hitting. Portales coach Robbie Crowley is prepared for a slow start after losing four seniors from the 2003 team, especially since this season starts with 11-straight road games.

“We’re young,” Crowley said. “We just need to get them some reps every day in practice, but I feel they’ll come around and be ready to go by district time.”

Portales won’t be home until April 3 against Eunice, and will start district play three days later at Ruidoso.

Crowley thinks pitching is strong in District 4-3A, which also includes Lovington and St. Michael’s. She’s confident that her pitcher, Richards, should be at top form by district as well.

“It’s going to depend on how strong Kassandra is,” Crowley said. “She usually comes out strong. They’re in shape and they’ve been lifting, so she’s pretty strong when she gets here.”

Richards is one of four players who have only been practicing this week. The others are sophomore first-baseman Ashleah Richards, sophomore second baseman Rebekah Gonzales and senior third baseman Adriana Romero.

The other starters for Thursday’s opener will likely be senior Ashley Flores as catcher and outfielders Sara Silva, Erica Feliciano and Carissa Martinez.

Romero has been doing light fielding work while she’s recovered from an ACL injury, while the other three were busy helping the basketball team win a state championship.

Other teams may have a head start on Portales because of the extended basketball season, and the fact they have pitchers that concentrate only on softball (i.e. Lovington senior Stephanie Ganaway). But Crowley has always accepted the fact that other PHS sports will interfere — the girls’ basketball team has been in the state title game for all four of Crowley’s softball seasons.

“If we had somebody that was that dedicated (only to softball) and threw all year, that would be great,” Crowley said. “But we share athletes at Portales High School. We don’t have any facilities for offseason. I’d prefer they play other sports.”

Parkey is one such example, having also played for this season’s state champion volleyball team. She’d like to get a second title before she graduates, and she knows she and four other seniors have to carry most of that responsibility.

“You have to be a leader and teach the new ones,” Parkey said. “We’ve got five seniors that have been here for so long, but I think we’ve got some good teams coming.”

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