By Arnie Leshin
Weather permitting, St. Michael’s baseball and softball teams hope to play their first district games when they hit the road Tuesday for West Las Vegas to play at the Dons brand-new facility.
Together, the two teams will ride the new sparkling white enlarged bus labeled the “Express,” and head baseball coach Augustin Ruiz said it seats about 70.
Until now, the weather conditions have kept both programs playing non-district games, with the baseball team at 3-4 and the softball team at 3-3.
The main problem for head coach Joe Alvarez softballers is pitching, but the hitting has come through in high-scoring games although the Lady Horsemen only scored one more run, 81-80.
“Yes” Alvarez said, “we can hit, but we have a very young group of pitchers with an eight-grader, two freshmen, and a sophomore.”
Hitting-wise, he points to freshman Mariella Ruiz, the daughter of Augustin and his wife, Sonya, the girls head basketball coach, and junior Mia Duran.
“Mariella’s batting .778,” he said, “with a home run and eight RBI, and Mia has a .739 average, a home run and 21 ribbies. Both played last year, Mariella as an 8th-grader and Mia as a freshman.”
Thursday, the Lady Horsemen play at Capital with Alvarez now in his 11th season at the helm as an assistant and head coach. Before she passed away, he was the key assistant under long-time head coach Roseanne Noedel.
The baseball team will be home for the first time Thursday when it gets a visit from non-district opponent Albuquerque Sandia Prep.
It began the snowy, windy chilly campaign with a 14-3 win at East Mountain, then played three times in the Albuquerque St. Pius X tournament, losing 10-0 to Albuquerque Volcano Vista, winning 20-2 over Silver City, and losing 7-2 to Albuquerque High.
Then came a 16-0 triumph at Espanola Valley and a doubleheader setback, 5-0 and 5-1, to Santa Fe High.
As for a premier player, Ruiz goes right to versatile senior Rahul Williams as a pitcher and position standout.
“He’s in his fifth year on the team,” said Ruiz, “and he mostly works on the mound in relief. He’s a right-hander at 1-0, has a 1.50 ERA, has a great change-up, has hurled 4 2/3 innings, is batting .471 and is perfect in the field at either short or second base.
“He is one of my two seniors, has good grades, his plans are to attend Ohio State, but he most likely will not play any baseball there.”
Ruiz is in his seventh season coaching the Horsemen. Before that, he was in the same role at Pecos to give him a total of 19 years in all.
The Alvarez softball team began with a 17-13 win at Taos and followed with a 19-9 defeat at Espanola Valley. In a doubleheader at Socorro, it pieced together 21-9 and 20-5 victories, then lost 19-5 to the host Pintos at the Moriarty Invitational, and 15-9 at Santa Rosa.