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Portales girls in search of state berth

Adriana Romero would describe her softball season as a “rollercoaster,” and she and her teammates are hopeful the ride ends May 15 in Hobbs, not Saturday in Grants.

Romero and the Lady Rams had all of last week, and have most of this week in preparation for Saturday Class 3A regionals. The junior thirdbaseman has only been able to play softball this season, due to an ACL injury during the fall.

“At first, I was down just trying to get over the aspect of having my injury,” said Romero, a 5-foot-9 junior. “Now I’m starting to reach my peak — I’m not overal worried about injuring my knee (again).”

Whether or not Portales reaches its peak depends on what happens Saturday against Grants, the District 3-3A champion and the No. 3 team in the most recent Albququerque Journal 3A coaches poll (April 22).

“We watched them last week and they’re pretty good,” Portales coach Robbie Crowley said of the Lady Pirates. “They’re pretty tough defensively, they’ve got a good pitcher and they hit the ball well against Cobre.”

After Portales beat St. Michael’s in a 16-inning game three weekend ago, Crowley theorized that it was the type of game that could make or break a season. Portales went 3-1 from the point on, while St. Michael’s lost four-straight after that point.

One of Portales’ victories came against Lovington, and it snapped a 41-game district winning streak by the Lady Wildcats. Crowley felt that win was a high point in Portales’ district season.

“I think we hit the ball well,” Crowley said of the district season. “We cut down on our errors, proved to ourselves that we could be Lovington, learned something by splitting in Ruidoso (April 16) — what can happen when we take matters for granted.”

That’s something Portales certainly doesn’t want to do, after losing in the regionals for the last two seasons. Portales lost to Bernalillo each time, including last season when Bernalillo went on to win the state title. Grants is a more favorable matchup than Bernalillo (ranked No. 1 in 3A), but Crowley said that won’t be important Saturday afternoon.

“It doesn’t matter who we face,” Crowley said. “We have to play.”

Winners of this weekend’s regionals will advance to the state tournament, May 14-15 in Hobbs.