Notes from the North

Let’s see, how best to explain this: The Santa Fe Fuego are red-hot right now, so hot you could say they’re on fire.

Dad jokes around the Fourth of July, an American tradition.

Santa Fe’s baseball team is on a roll at the moment, having swept a six-game homestand that ended with Saturday night’s 22-7 rout of Trinidad at Fort Marcy Ballpark. It’s the team’s longest winning streak since taking half a dozen in a row from July 15-20 in 2018. They also had an eight-game streak earlier that season.

This run tied for the fifth longest in team history. The Fuego won 10 straight in 2014 and 2015 to set the club standard.

A deeper dive shows it’s all about the offense. The Fuego scored 106 runs in the homestand, averaging 17.7 runs while scoring 22 or more runs in three of the last four contests.

Even more important is the separation it gave the Fuego in the Pecos League’s Mountain South standings.

The top two teams in each division advance to the playoffs and Santa Fe (19-13 after the homestand) had a 2 1/2-game lead on Alpine for second place behind Tucson.

Not bad for a team that lost four of its first five games and is a measly 2-7 against last-place Roswell.

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Speaking of the Pecos League, its annual All-Star Game will be Sunday at Fort Marcy Ballpark. The league announced its rosters before Saturday night’s game, naming six players from Santa Fe to the South roster.

The Fuego will be represented by pitchers Aaron McIntyre (4-1, 4.30 ERA, league-leader in strikeouts) and Augie Voight (2-1, 2.65, league-best four saves with 40 strikeouts in 17 innings). Position players are Ben Tingen, Jared Gay, Philip Buckingham and Ryan Bernardy.

The team’s starting shortstop, Bernardy is third in the league in hits and leads the Fuego in batting (.395). Gay usually starts at first base and is on pace to shatter the team’s single-season home run record. With 15 jacks in 32 games, he’s second in the league in home runs and sixth in RBI (42).

Bernardy and Tingen start in the outfield. A Las Cruces native, Tingen is the sparkplug who lives, eats and breathes effort. He’s hitting .345 and leads the Fuego in stolen bases. Buckingham is batting .370 and has struck out just 12 times in 141 plate appearances.

Looking for an All-Star snub? Meet outfielder Parker DePasquale. All he’s done is hit .386 with 12 home runs, 44 RBI and 49 hits, all of which crack the leaderboard of the Pecos League.

Also in the game representing the North is Trinidad second baseman Aaron Stubblefield, a former Fuego.

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It took decades for West Las Vegas to build its own football field on campus, spending most of its Friday nights and Saturday afternoons playing across town at New Mexico Highlands University’s stadium.

Until then, the only patch of available real estate the team could use for practice was an oddly shaped swath of rock-strewn grass and dirt about a 9-iron drop shot from the school’s gym. The Frank Herrera Complex rose from that spot and now has an artificial turf field, surrounding track, lights and enough seating to make everyone happy.

By this fall, the school’s baseball and softball teams will finally get on-campus homes of their own. West Las Vegas athletic director Richard Tripp said this week that a $3 million project that clears out enough land to build modern fields for both sports will hopefully be done by late October.

The school district had to buy a few homes in that area and level the ground in order to make it all work. It’s situated south of the Frank Herrera Complex and, when done, will usher in a new era for spring sports at a school whose softball team made it to this year’s Class 3A state championship game and whose baseball team was in the state finals in 2019.

Neither field will have lights, although each will have the wiring installed in case the district decides to install them at some point in the future.

“With the time of year we play baseball and softball, it’s too cold to have night games,” Tripp said.

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It might be July, but that doesn’t mean recruiting news is barren. Rio Rancho Cleveland graduate Nathan Hasberry signed a letter of intent to play basketball at New Mexico Highlands University for the 2021-22 season.

Hasberry was a three-year varsity player, and helped guide the Storm to its first Class 5A title in May. He also was named to the 5A All-State first team.

He joins an NMHU program that did not play last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, the Las Vegas Optic reported Thursday that 2019 Las Vegas Robertson graduate McKayla Encinias committed to play softball at Highlands after completing two years at Garden City Community College in the spring.

Encinias, who was a part of five straight District 2-3A championship teams at Robertson, earned the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Division I West’s Most Valuable Player award, after hitting .449 with 18 home runs and 70 RBIs. Her .942 slugging percentage was seventh in the Jayhawk Conference.

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It didn’t count, but still.

Saturday night’s abbreviated 16-0 loss to El Paso will go down as one of the worst in Albuquerque Isotopes history. In what is looking like the most forgettable season since the team’s inception in 2003, the Topes were held without a hit in a game mercifully halted in the top of the sixth inning due to rain.

And, no, the no-no doesn’t officially go down as official because they’re not recognized unless a game goes a complete nine innings. If you’re confused, ask the Diamondbacks’ Madison Bumgarner for clarification; he knows all about no-nos that don’t go the distance.

Then again, it wasn’t really the Isotopes down on the field Saturday. Let history show that they were going as the Mariachis de Nuevo Mexico as part of their rolling promotion as an alternate ego club.

If you’re into such things, the Isotopes are on pace for their worst record of all time. They’ve finished 20 games under .500 twice, including their most recent season in 2019. The Isotopes haven’t actually had a winning record since 2013 when they were still tied to the Dodgers and Lo Bundy was the skipper.

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Santa Fe High’s volleyball team is inviting freshmen interested in playing to join its summer conditioning workouts beginning Tuesday from 5-7:30 p.m. The program is scheduling weight-lifting and conditioning every Monday and Friday from 10-11:30 a.m., as well as Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7:30 p.m.

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The volleyball scene in Las Vegas, N.M., as abound with changes. Both Las Vegas Robertson and West Las Vegas opened their varsity head coach positions. West Las Vegas athletic director Richard Tripp said interviews will take place this week, while Las Vegas Robertson recently completed its interviews.

Neither school participated in the sport in the spring because both school districts had opted to remain in remote learning in January and did not have time to prepare for the shortened 2021 season when the state announced all schools could open campuses for in-person learning beginning in April.

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