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Bringing Home the Blue: Softball and Baseball Cap off Amazing Seasons

AUSTIN DENTON | SPORTS

La Cueva Athletics has written many records in its history books. But May 13th, 2017, will be one of those days that will stand out from the rest. The softball and baseball programs will bring back two blue state championship trophies to the trophy case at the school, capping off two amazing seasons that will also write their own history.

For softball, it was in the stars for them as soon as the regular season concluded and the state tournament was upon them. After beating Valley in dominant fashion 20-0 to close out the regular season, the Bears were riding an undefeated 24-0 season, were #7 ranked in the nation by USA Today, and #13 by CBS MaxPreps Xcellent Rankings. No way they could slow down, right? Right.

The #1 seeded Bears took down #3 seeded Onate 5-0 at the Lobo Softball Field, the win propelled by an Andrea Howard 2 run home run that got the Lady Bears unstuck from the early 1-0 lead they kept for quite some time. “Hard work definitely pays off,” Howard said about the win. “I am very proud of my team…” Along with Howard, Rachael Hathoot also contributed to the win, going 2-3 on the day and driving in one run.

Ryan Johnson hits the triple that would extend the lead for the Bears. Photo credit to Sean Anthony

Another headline to come out of that softball state championship games was the pitching performance of Kendra Keahbone. Keahbone went the full seven innings of the championship game, allowing only five hits, and striking out five batters. “It was all about the mentality of the seniors,” head coach Ron Romero said to the ABQ Journal. “Those seniors came out and made a statement in practice all year long that we were going to be mentally ready for every game.”

This is the second state championship for the softball program in the history of the school, and the first state title since 2005. For head coach Ron Romero, it is his first state championship trophy after being a runner-up in 2014 with the Hope Christian Huskies. Also, five members of this year’s softball team represented the Eastdale Little League team back in 2012 that won the LL Softball World Series.

Four hours later across the street at Isotopes Park, the La Cueva baseball team was getting ready for their state championship game against unarguably their biggest threat this season, the Cleveland Storm. Devin Borin was assigned to pitch their task of taking the blue, opposite the Storm’s up and coming pitcher, Jared Silva. And it already looked to be a great game.

It was a shaky start though for the Bears. Borin starting off the game hitting the leadoff batter with a pitch. Then after a sacrifice bunt, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly ball, Cleveland grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. The Bears clawed back through in the second with back to back hits from Isaac Standridge and Chris Campbell, and a textbook bunt by Austin Schlagel to make it a 2-1 lead.

But again, Borin struggled on the mound, and head coach Gerard Pineda had to pull him after only 1 2/3 innings. Wes Alexanderson came in as relief and brought quite a spark for the Bears. He pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing only two runs and striking out two. “We specifically held him back for that reason,” Coach Pineda told the ABQ Journal.

In between that pitching performance, the batters decided to light a fire on the bats and let the ball fly.

The Bears blew the door open on the Storm in the top of the sixth inning after extending their lead to 5-2. That number would get bigger for them, after a RBI triple by Ryan Johnson, a triple by Richard Ware, and a RBI single by Ryan Phillips. Then after a sac fly, Phillips tagged up to make it 10-2 Bears.

Alexanderson was pulled in the bottom of the 7th after a couple of hits by the Storm, but fans showed their gratitude by chanting his name as he walked back to the dugout. “It felt unreal, like something out of a movie!” he said.

Phillips would close out the last three outs for the Bears, giving them their fifth blue trophy in the past ten seasons, and their first since 2014 by a score of 10-4. “Coming in and closing not just the season but the state championship game was a great way to end my season off,” Phillips told The Edition. “I knew if I were to get the chance, I would have to take it and finish the job.”

The Bears finished the season 28-1, their only loss coming on opening day to Valley. They finish #7 in the nation in USA Today rankings, #9 in Baseball America’s rankings, and #25 in CBS MaxPreps Xcellent Rankings.

Holly Holm vs. Bethe Correia confirmed for UFC Fight Night: Singapore

The official graphic released as this main event was announced. Photo credit to UFC.com

AUSTIN DENTON | SPORTS

Holly Holm vs. Bethe Correia is the main event for the June 17th UFC Fight Night in Singapore after being reported as a targeted fight by mmafighting.com.

Albuquerque native Holm (10-3, 3-3 UFC) returns to the bantamweight (135) division after a brief appearance in the newly created featherweight (145) division, having lost the inaugural championship bout to Germaine de Randamie. Holm also enters the fight riding a dismal three-fight losing streak, those losses to the now retired Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, and de Randamie. She has not won a bout in the UFC since her stunning knockout of Ronda Rousey in 2015.

As for Correia (10-2-1, 4-2-1 UFC), she enters the bout after a majority draw with Marion Reneau back in March. She had a string of losses as well to Rousey which was a championship bout, and young contender Raquel Pennington before bouncing back with a win over Jessica Eye.

The fight will take place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, tickets going on sale today, (April 13th). Cant’t make it out to Singapore? The fight will be available to view on UFC Fight Pass, UFC’s online streaming service. The service will offer a 7-day free trial so fans can gain access to the fight as well as archived fights from all UFC events, and other organizations.

Paul Weir hired as new Lobo Basketball coach

AUSTIN DENTON | SPORTS

Just before 4:00 pm MST on Monday, Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported what many New Mexico Lobo fans thought was impossible. The Lobos were now shifting their sights on rival New Mexico State coach Paul Weir for the vacant job. James Borrego, Joe Dooley, and Steve Forbes did not want the job anymore, and the Lobos were out of options. So they turned to the unthinkable and contacted Weir with an offer.

And they succeeded.

Paul Weir encourages his team. Photo Credit to Gary Mook of New Mexico State Athletics.

LoboLair reported early Tuesday morning that Weir was hired as the head coach, and two hours later Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs confirmed. “I am excited to officially welcome Paul Weir as new head coach of the Lobos, ” Krebs said in his tweet, expressing excitement with a Lobo emoji. Weir succeeds former head coach Craig Neal who was fired on March 31st after four years at the helm. “I was able to see many of their games this season, and Paul is a bright young mind in the game. His teams play with tremendous passion and energy,” Krebs said in a later statement.

Weir developed as the top candidate for the job after James Borrego, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach, took his name out of the hat. Borrego, a New Mexico native, “informed school officials on Sunday night (Apr. 9th) that he planned to exit the search process and continue pursuit of future head-coaching opportunities in the NBA…” reported Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Joe Dooley, Florida Gulf Coast head coach, and Steve Forbes, East Tennessee State head coach, followed suit the day after. Weir came up as the next option, and it worked out.

Weir led New Mexico State to a school record 28 wins last season in his first season with the Aggies, led them to a WAC tournament championship, and a NCAA tournament berth. He also split a season series with the Lobos as the coach of the Aggies last season. He also was the associate head coach under former head coach Marvin Menzies for nine seasons.

Lobo athletic department will hold a press conference on Tuesday (the 11th) at 2:00 pm to introduce Weir as the new head coach.