By Dave Burge
The Centennial High School softball team earned a trip to the state 5A title game and they did it the hard way — coming up through the consolation bracket.
The Hawks, 25-7 and seeded No. 2, won three do-or-die games Friday, culminating with a 12-10 win over No. 3 Alamogordo.
Earlier Friday, the Hawks beat no. 9 Piedra Vista 2-0 and beat no. 4 La Cueva 10-7 to start their day.
Centennial now advances to the state 5A title game against No. 1 seeded Carlsbad at 5 pm Saturday at the University of New Mexico. The Hawks will have to beat Carlsbad twice to win the title.
Centennial sophomore pitcher Caprice Barela threw three complete games in all three victories Friday.
Coach Fernie Valles said he tried to pull Barela in the Piedra Vista game but she wouldn’t come out.
“She’s a workhorse,” Valles said.
“It takes the whole team to win all three games like that, but credit to (Barela),” Valles said. “She threw well and she is ready for tomorrow.”
Centennial led Alamogordo 10-2 at one point before Barela started to tire from pitching all day, Valles said.
Valles said his team struggled at the plate during their first day in Albuquerque when they were knocked into the consolation round with a 5-4 loss to No. 7 hobbies. The Hawks then rebounded with a 2-1 win over Cleveland later on Thursday.
Friday, the bats came alive for Centennial — with 13 hits against La Cueva, seven hits against Piedra Vista and 15 hits against Alamogordo.
Amanda Valles hit a home run against Piedra Vista, while Gianna Villegas was 3-for-3 against Alamogordo, 2-for-3 against PV and 2-for-3 against La Cueva.
Valles said they will enjoy the victories for a little bit and then get ready for Carlsbad, which was the state 5A runner-up last year. The two teams played in Centennial’s first two games of the season, and the Hawks lost both but one was in extra innings.
Centennial doesn’t have any seniors on its team and just two juniors; the rest are freshmen and sophomores.
“Being so young and not having senior leadership, it was a tough season (at times),” Valles said. “They stuck together and trusted the coaches that the program would work. They followed it and we are here.”
Valles promised that his team won’t just be happy to reach the state title game but will be in it to win it.
In 1A baseball, Mesilla Valley Christian lost to top-seeded Gateway Christian 11-1 to end its season.