RIO RANCHO RAMS WITH A PLAN “TO BE THERE AT THE END”
The Rio Rancho Rams established themselves as one of the contenders for a state title this season with half a dozen starters back from last season.
“It’s a very veteran team, almost our entire lineup has some veteran experience,” said head coach Ron Murphy. “We do have a freshman (Dean Ellison) that’s playing first base/right field who starts for us. He played JV as an eighth grader and he’s pretty good. But other than that, it’s a pretty veteran group of guys that’s been around a while.”
They have one of the top players in the state in second baseman Vascon Smith who signed with the University of New Mexico. “He can hit the ball a mile,” said Murphy. “What we’re working on with Vascon is getting better contact more consistently. When he hits the ball, he hits it hard.”
A lot of kids are hitting the ball harder. One change to this baseball season is the return of aluminum bats after a couple seasons with wood/composite bats. “I would say there’s definitely some more pop in the bats,” Murphy said. “We’ve had a couple home runs that may not have been home runs with the wood and a couple against us, same thing. We’ve seen a lot more balls in the gap, a lot more doubles and triples than we’ve seen in the past years and no doubt the bat has a lot to do with it and we’ve seen a lot less bunting. That’s one of the little things we like to do, whether we are using aluminum or wood. So, it’s definitely made the game a lot more offensive and longer.”
The Rams haven’t won a state title since 2013, but if healthy, they feel like they can make a run this year. “We really thought we had a chance to get there last year and then six kids get sick the day of our playoffs and that really hurt us,” Murphy explained. “We thought one of the best teams we’ve had in a long time was the COVID year. We’ve had a couple tough breaks in the last couple years, but we definitely plan to be one of the teams to be there at the end this year.”
Murphy and the Rams will host the annual Sal Puentes Tournament this weekend. Rio Rancho will take on Goddard Thursday night.