Although the Green vs. Red All-Star Softball Series did not include any local players, Socorro was still well represented as the Warriors’ Juan Alvarado was the head coach for the Red squad that ended up winning two of three games in the weekend series.
“It was awesome,” said Alvarado, who brought along his entire Socorro coaching staff. “Just being there with that type of quality of players that are at that level, ready for the next chapter, ready for the next step, is amazing.”
The games are run through the New Mexico High School Coaches Association and are only open to graduating seniors.
“It’s one of those opportunities you can’t turn down,” he said, adding that he got to coach in the baseball series earlier in his coaching career.
Alvarado said he recommended Chailynn Amaro and Marissa Herrera from the Warriors, but the final selection was up to association members.
Still, rising Socorro sophomore pitcher Abrianna Romero did attend the games along with her mother, Warriors assistant coach Tracy Romero. Alvarado said his young pitcher came away quite impressed, particularly with Artesia’s RyLee Crandall, who was last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year and earned a scholarship to play at Baylor.
“She was throwing heat,” Alvarado said of Crandall. “Abrianna came to me and said, ‘Coach, I want to throw like her.’ I told her to go over there and sit next to her and talk to her and find out what it takes to get there.”
The teams first got together Friday afternoon in Rio Rancho for a brief meet and greet, then a quick practice before playing that night, a game Red won 5-4.
A Saturday afternoon doubleheader followed, with Green winning the opener 4-3 and the nightcap going to Red 9-3 behind four home runs.
“With the girls, you wish you had that kind of talent with the high school team,” he said. “One through nine 1-9. So coachable. So understanding. Their leadership, their discipline. You don’t worry about nothing. You say it one time and that’s it.”
While there was some pressure to win, the players exuded such confidence that Alvarado never really worried about the outcome.
“It was very challenging, but not stressful,” he said. “Since you’re coaching that type of caliber player, you knew the girls would come through. And the girls did respond. We bonded pretty good. Helluva athletes. Awesome, great experience.”
Throughout it all, the players were there to have a good time, Alvarado said.
“They were having fun. They were enjoying it,” he said. “But at the same time, they were there to do a job. It’s a different level. They were serious. It’s intense. They take the game seriously. No joking around about it. But they compliment each other on the plays they did. Discipline at the plate and sportsmanship on the field. You can’t ask for anything else.”
It was an experience that Alvarado hopes to use with the Warriors when softball season rolls around again next spring.
“I learned a lot from it,” he said. “Every year is a learning experience. And what it takes to build a winning program. That’s how we can do it. And install it and hopefully the girls take a bite off it and go from there.”