On the Sports Desk Monday, Lobo Baseball Coach Ray Birmingham and player Brayden Merritt shared memories of pitcher Jackson Weller, who was shot and killed in Nob Hill over the weekend.
“He was one fierce pitcher, one fierce competitor, probably one of the most kindest, most respectful young men you will ever meet,” said Birmingham.
The Volcano Vista Hawks are heading into the state tournament as the top seed in Class 5A baseball. The District 1 champions will try to give Head Coach Kevin Andersh his first championship. In 12 seasons, Andersh has taken the Hawks to the championship twice, only to finish as runner-up. The Hawks have the tools to finish the job with a good pitching staff and strong hitters.
“This is probably the best offensive team that we have ever had here,” said Andersh. “We end up batting .360, which is a lot of points more than we’ve had in the past. I feel 1 through 9, we got a lineup that I can send anybody up to the plate and at least they are going to give us some competitive at-bats.” The Hawks will host Alamogordo in the first round of the playoffs Friday at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, Kevin Carroll is stepping down as Albuquerque Academy football coach. James Yodice of the Albuquerque Journal reports that Carroll has 30 seasons of coaching with 160 wins and 147 losses.
New Mexico United woke up Monday morning sitting on top of the USL Championship Western Division. They defeated San Antonio FC 3-0 Sunday to move into first place. The crowd of over 15,000 fans motivated New Mexico United to get off to a fast start. They were also moved with a heavy heart.
“Obviously, we were playing for our teammate Justin Schmidt, after going through the loss of his dad,” said midfielder Chris Wehan. “It really brought us together even more so than we already were. There was a lot of emotion involved in the game, and I think we handled it the right way.”
Wehan scored two goals in the win. New Mexico United is at El Paso Locomotive FC Sunday.
Next up, New Mexico boxer Brian Mendoza had to leave the state and head to Las Vegas to keep his career going. It’s now paying off. He recently signed with Top Rank and represented the organization well with a second-round knockout in his first fight with his new promoter.
It was his first fight in two years. The long wait almost made him hang up his gloves. “It got kind of to that point where I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore,” said Mendoza. “I love what I do. It just sucked to be doing all the work and not being able to have fun and fight the main thing. Now the perseverance paid off. That’s all I can really say.”