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Colt baseball’s Maloney and Rivera represent well at North-South All-Star games

As has become tradition at the annual All-Star games, players exchange uniforms. Francisco Rivera (left) in a Texico Wolverines jersey and cap; Gavin Maloney in a Cobre Indians top and Wolverines hat.

NMMI Sports Press

Two Colt baseball players wrapped up their high school careers in style — making both the All North-South (A-4A) and 4A All Star teams — and both are headed off to play college ball as Broncos. But they’ll play for different schools: one at NMMI and the other in California.

Outfielder/pitcher Gavin Maloney and infielder Francisco Rivera were both picked as first team players on the North-South squad — an annual tradition for the best seniors in the state. Colt outfielder Connor Roe was also chosen as an alternate.

The games were held June 8-9 at the UNM Stadium in Albuquerque, and included a trio of games as well as lots of fun, food and hoopla.

“It was a great time,” said Colt coach Charlie Ward. “Great memories for our kids. We were very proud.”

Gavin Maloney awaits a pitch during a game at Dexter’s Hal Bogle Classic.

Prior to the actual All-Star games, Maloney was chosen as one of six players to compete in the home run derby. He was the only one able to lift anything out of the massive park (338 feet down the lines, 408 in left and right and 430 in center) during the competition, tallying four dingers over the outer walls.

“They were shots. Two of them were lasers,” Ward said.

Both Maloney and Rivera had key roles to play in the opening game between the two teams, which the South won 4-3.

“Our boys represented our school and district well,” the coach said.

Maloney played right field, and after walking twice early in the game, stepped up to the plate with a 3-3 tie in the seventh and tripled to center. He then scored on an RBI double by Hatch catcher James Gimler, bringing home the winning run.

Francisco Rivera pitching in a home game for the Colts.

Rivera played third in second half of that game, and kept the score tied with stellar fielding in the bottom of the sixth. With the bases loaded and two outs, he made a great back-hand catch at third base and then stepped on the bag to end the inning. He also made the final out in the bottom of seventh to give the South the one-run win.

Game 2 was a pitchers’ duel, what Ward called “the fastest high school game in a long time.”

Pitching for the South, Maloney, and his counterpart on the North, both sat batters down in order, and heading into the fifth the game was scoreless. The North side then managed a single run thanks to a dropped pop-fly, and the relief pitchers for both sides kept the batters off base with the North winning 1-0.

Game 3 was both lots of fun and a blowout for the South, which won 17-2.

The players all swapped uniforms, with Rivera wearing a Texico Wolverine jersey and Maloney a Cobre Indian jersey and Texico hat.

“They had a blast,” Ward said.

With Texico pitcher Ben Crist — who pitched on last three Class A state championship teams — the South made it look easy, as Crist shut the North batters down and the South hitters stung the ball.

Maloney played center and pitched the final inning, getting a single at the plate.

Moriarty Pinto Ben Lipke, who dropped the fly ball in Game 2, hit a 3-run home run to left and had a 2-RBI double, easily making up for his mistake earlier.

“They told me they had a great time. They had a lot of fun,” Ward said. And, he added, Hope Christian coach Glen Copeland, who helmed the South, was “very impressed with NMMI players and how they handled themselves.”

“The most fun part of the weekend was meeting all the players from the teams we used to play against and making all the new friends,” Maloney said.

“The All-Star series weekend was a really fun experience that I will never forget,” Rivera said. “Having the honor to represent the Dirty South was really cool, and getting to play with Gavin for three more high school games made it more fun and an experience that I will never forget. Meeting the players from other teams and having the opportunity to know them more and create new friendships is also one of the best parts of that weekend. I’m really thankful that I got the chance to play in the All-Star game.”

The pair continued to rack up honors as the Class 4A All-State teams were announced. Maloney was picked as a first-team All State outfielder and second team pitcher; Rivera was named to the second team as a shortstop, just beaten out by a Hope player who also won player of the year honors.

Maloney, who signed earlier in the year with the DI Santa Clara University Broncos, was also recently named as a first-team member of USA Today’s All-USA New Mexico baseball team.

“I’m really excited to get there and compete at a high level and I’m just going to focus on getting better every day and being the best ball player I can be,” he said.

Calling the Roswell native “one of the top three players out of the 20 years I’ve been here,” Ward said he’s certain he’ll see Maloney on the field as a freshman.

“I believe Gavin is going to do exceptionally well. He has a great work ethic. He understands the game. He will do the extra things. He will be one who will do the little things. He understands what it takes, and I know he’ll compete for a starting spot right away.”

And while he’s pretty sure Maloney has seen his last action on the mound, he thinks there’s nothing else the Colt turned Bronco can’t do.

“He’s just a player,” Ward said. “He can swing a bat. He can play the outfield. He’s got a great jump. For as tall as he is, that boy can run. He’s got good speed. He tells me he wants to steal bases. Gavin also has that leadership ability that’s going to carry over with him.

“I think what’s going to carryover for him in his next opportunity is how he swings the bat. He’s got great bat speed. Swings with power. He’ll have that opportunity.”

Rivera became the latest Colt to move on to the next level when he signed in June to play for head coach Chris Cook and the NMMI Broncos, where he’ll rejoin with two former Colt teammates, Jake Guerrero and Michel Hinojos, both of whom saw significant playing time last season as freshman.

“Francisco’s parents are very proud he is going to get an opportunity,” Ward said. “Coach (Chris) Cook is going to give him a chance.”

“I’m planning to continue with my baseball career at the Institute playing for the Broncos,” Rivera said. “Having the opportunity to be part of the team is an honor to me. I look forward to working hard to gain a spot in the team with the help of coach Cook.”

Ward said Rivera’s quickness in the field will carry over, and he’ll learn a lot at the college level.

“His best attribute is his quickness at short,” the coach said. “Nice glove. His arm. His bat will come. College coaches will teach him how to swing.

“They’re going to find a guy with a heart who’s a true competitor and will be here for this team. He’ll be a team player, and he’ll get better. I’m looking forward to seeing him get bigger, stronger, faster and play at the next level.

And in the Corps, Rivera will also be a leader, as he’s been picked to be a troop commander.

“We have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the Colt baseball players who have moved on to becoming Bronco’s over the past couple of years,” said head Bronco coach Chris Cook. “Rivera is a great kid, a hard worker, and his energy will immediately make him a positive influence in our program. With more baseball development time being available at the college level, I believe he has a chance to really take off in our program.”

Former Bronco Pimentel becomes second NCBWA All-American in program history


Pimentel’s All-American status comes following a clean sweep of the NCAA Central Region honors where he was a First Team All-Region selection by three different outlets including the Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA), American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) and the NCBWA.

Prior to the all-region accolades, he was previously named the Great American Conference Newcomer of the Year and a First Team All-GAC selection after leading the conference in batting average (.411) and hits (78) while ranking second in total bases (127). He was also selected to the All-GAC Tournament Team after hitting .571 (8-for-14) at the tournament with two doubles, three home runs and six runs batted in during three games played by the Bulldogs in the event. For the season, Pimentel led the Bulldogs in hits, batting average, doubles, RBI, slugging and on-base percentage while ranking second on the squad in home runs.

“I couldn’t be happier for Alex,” Head Coach Zack Saunders said. “He has earned every bit of his success and is a product of what happens when you truly work for something. His competitiveness and work ethic are as good as any player I have coached. We couldn’t be more proud to watch him get what he deserves.”

This is the first time Saunders has had a player receive All-American recognition during his head coaching tenure, dating back to 2012. Prior to Thursday, Michael Felton (2010) was the lone All-American on the list when he was named a third team selection by the NCBWA during SWOSU’s time competing in the Lone Star Conference.

Pimentel ended the year ranked sixth in batting average and tied for fifth in total hits on SWOSU’s single-season Top-10 list and is set to return to SWOSU next season for his senior year, where he will look to continue to leave his mark on the Bulldog Baseball program.

“Congratulations to Kirby on the tremendous season and the long list of accolades that have been awarded to him after his Junior year,” said head Bronco coach Chris Cook. “Its been noted numerous times in his press clippings over the past month how hard of a worker he is, and while that is without a doubt true, the thing that stands out the most to me is just how good of a person and teammate he was here at NMMI and continues to be there at SWOSU. He has the “make-up” us coaches are always looking for in college level athletes. He is an excellent leader and I feel great that he will get to nurture and guide the newest Bronco Baseball players next year at SWOSU (Angel Colon & Luis Rivera). I feel blessed to have had an opportunity to Coach him here at the Institute and I look forward to seeing what he will accomplish down the road.”

Broncos in good position heading into day two


NMMI Sports Press

The Bronco tennis team started off strong scoring 8 points in the first day of the 2018 NJCAA Division I Men’s Nationals.

NMMI is currently tied in 8th place with Barton, Glendale, Mississippi Gulf Coast and Seminole state.

Link to stay updated on the NJCAA National Tournament:


No. 1: Christopher Bulus had a first-round bye

No. 2: Emanuel Mallya, NMMI, def. Brandon Reichel, College of Lake County, 6-1, 6-2

No. 3: Marcel Agbegne had a first-round bye

No. 4: Kukutla Motlojoa, NMMI, def. Nickalas Neal, USC Sumter, 6-0, 6-0

No. 5: Ned Marrion, NMMI, def. Bruno Deschamps, Glendale, 6-2, 6-3

No. 6: Will Swindoll, Meridian CC, def. Orlando Santillanes, NMMI, 6-0, 6-0


No.1: Bulus/Agbegne had a first-round bye

No. 2: Mallya/ Motlojoa, NMMI, def. Sotelo/Wu, Pima CC, 6-2, 6-0

No. 3: McMurdie/Mendoza, Glendale, def. Marrion/Santillanes, NMMI, 6-0. 6-2

1. Collin – 14
1. Iowa Central – 14
1. Jacksonville – 14
1. Mesa – 14
5. Harford – 10
5. Laredo – 10
5. Meridian – 10
8. Barton – 8
8. Glendale – 8
8. Mississippi Gulf Coast – 8
8. NMMI – 8
8. Seminole – 8
13. Copiah-Lincoln – 6
13. Cowley – 6
13. Eastern Florida – 6
13. Marion Military – 6
13. Pima – 6
13. USC-Sumter – 6
19. ABAC – 4
19. Hinds – 4
21. Prairie St. – 2
21. Wallace St. – 2
23. ASA Miami – 0
23. Lake County – 0
23. Seward – 0
23. Tyler – 0

Broncos tied for 13th at nationals


Bronco Women’s tennis poses for a picture earlier in the season.

NMMI Sports Press

After day four at the 2018 Women’s NJCAA National Championships, the Broncos are tied for 13th with Jones County and Pima CC.

Each win gives you one point and a loss in the first round sends you to the consolation bracket. Each victory in the consolation bracket is 0.5 points.

No. 1 Singles: (3) Ceire Mullins defeats. (8) Georjemah Row (NMMI) 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals

No. 2 Singles: (3) Vasavi Ganesan Shanthi defeats Mikayla Lopez (NMMI) 6-0, 6-0 in the 5th round

No. 3 Singles: (3) Claudia Barboza defeats Vinda Teally ( NMMI) 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 16

No. 4 Singles: (4) Julia Tozzi d. Megan Lynch ( NMMI) 7-5, 6-3 in the round of 16

No. 5 Singles: Jenna Groene d. Becsave Pacheco (NMMI) 6-0, 6-1 in the round of 32 and was defeated in the first round of the consolation bracket.

No. 6 Singles: Jayme Shafer d. Kathy Clouthier (NMMI) 6-0, 6-0 in the round of 32 and advanced to the consolation semi-finals but was defeated 8-0.

Kovačević excited to play for Niagara next season

Mirna Kovačević signs her LOI to play for Niagara.

NMMI Sports Press

Mirna Kovacevic sets a ball to a hitter in 2017.

Bronco volleyball player Mirna Kovačević has high praise for the New Mexico Military Institute and what it has helped her achieve.

“I can talk about this all day. I really loved my time here from Day 1,” she said. “Well, not Day. 1. I hated Day 1. But from the first week to the end. And I’m really excited to go home, but I can’t imagine leaving the people behind. And I really hope we’re going to see each other after. I’ve gained so much experience. I learned a lot more about volleyball. I learned the language. I bettered my grades. I learned leadership. How to be in charge of people. How to be part of a crew. So it’s done a lot for me and I do not regret a minute of it.”

All this and more the 6-foot-2 sophomore setter from Serbia will bring to her new school, DI Niagara University in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Kovačević said she was as excited to go on to the next stage of her volleyball career as she was to come to the Institute.

“I was screaming this morning when I found out I got the papers,” she said. “It was like the first time (head coach) Shelby (Forchtner) offered me (a scholarship.) It was the same exact feeling. I’m so excited to go on to the next chapter of my life and just do great things. Because I feel like I can do so much more with that confidence. And just do what I love. That’s the most important thing.”

Forchtner agrees with that excitement.

“I’m just excited to watch her grow for two more years,” she said. “When she got here, she probably had some of the best hands of anybody we’d ever seen, in 15 years. She just needed some fine tuning. It’s been nice to watch her grow for two years, but I know there’s a lot more in there, too. So it’s going to be fun to watch during her senior year and see the growth over the four years. I think she’s going to be able to go in right away and contribute to their program and start for them, and that’s exactly what they need in the setting position. She just needs to she carry over what she did this year to the next level.”

The Purple Eagles had their best MAAC finish ever in 2017, going 18-10 overall and 14-4 in conference before losing to rival Iona in the MAAC tournament. It’s a finish Kovacevic hopes to reverse next year.


Mirna Kovacevic poses for a head shot during the 2017 season.

“They are really struggling with that team, so I hope I can help them reach that goal of winning that conference,” she said.

If Kovačević’s can post similar stats at Niagara to those she recorded at NMMI, it might do exactly that. Mirna played in 42 matches this season for the Lady Broncos, had 661 assists, 33 aces, 195 digs, and 48 kills with a .318 kill percentage.

The setter is excited about new head coach Donna Day — a two-year assistant coach — and the team.

“She’s an amazing person,” Kovacevic said. “She reminds me of my previous coach, Shelby. I met the team and we just bonded instantly and I can see them as being my sisters, and I see them bringing me in as their sister, too. So I hope we’re going to connect on the same level and I’m really excited and looking forward to it.”

The other reason for choosing the school is her major, which is hospitality and tourism, which none of the other schools she visited offered. The sophomore hopes to eventually work on a cruise ship, which suits her ebullient personality.

And it’s that personality Forchnter said they’ll miss the most.

“She possesses a lot of leadership qualities that have helped the last two years in terms of team unity. She enjoys her teammates and her teammates enjoy her and she possesses a lot of motherly skills, in terms of making sure she’s got all of her stuff and being on time and taking care of other people around her. Those things are hard to find in 18-, 19-, 20-year old kids, nowadays.

Kovacevic closed out her signing interview with the same enthusiasm for the Institute that she started with

“I want to thank so many people here, but most of all coaches Shelby and (assistant coach) Alonso (Ibarra) who worked with me in building my confidence and building my athletic abilities. Just thanks to my entire team and everybody who’s been with me through the whole process: my teachers and the TLAs and the Dean. It’s so amazing and I love it here.