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The Lady Bulldog softball team was staring down the Holy Grail Tuesday in Carlsbad: A sweep of the Cavegirls.

Class 5A’s second-ranked team had jumped out to a 5-0 lead over Carlsbad to start Part II of an Eddy County War series that saw Artesia triumphant in Part I March 21 at The Mack, 6-1.

But the girls in blue had clawed their way back into contention, and with no outs in the bottom of the seventh and Artesia up 7-6, the Cavegirls loaded the bases on back-to-back errors and a walk.

Reliever Kacey Thurman – who came on for starter Kali Crandall in the bottom of the fourth – and her defense had put Carlsbad down in order in both the fifth and sixth innings, and she logged a strikeout to give the Lady ‘Dogs one away in the seventh and a chance for a double play.

But Artesia tried to go home instead on a ground ball to second and the throw was not in time, allowing the Cavegirls to tie the game at 7-all. That also left the bases loaded, and in an unfortunately anticlimactic finish to an otherwise action-packed affair, all Carlsbad had to do in the end was stand there – a walk ended the game, 8-7.

The Cavegirls made their initial charge in the bottom of the third, picking up four runs to make it 5-4 Artesia on a double, two singles, and an illegal pitch call.

The Lady Bulldogs left two runners stranded in the top of four, and Carlsbad took their first lead in the home half, 6-5, on a single and RBI ground out.

Artesia wasn’t about to give up without a fight, however, storming back in the top of the fifth on a clutch two-RBI double to center by Gracie Puentes that returned the lead to the Lady ‘Dogs, 7-6. A subsequent base hit by Alexa Riggs loaded the bases with one away, but Artesia left them out there on back-to-back Ks.

The girls in orange got a base hit from Melody Payne in the sixth but left her stranded, as well, and went down in order in the top of the seventh to prevent insurance runs.

Carlsbad improved to 11-7 on the year with the win, while the Lady Bulldogs dropped to 9-4 in their final regular-season game of 2017. They’ll now have a week to prepare for the start of District 4-AAAAA play Tuesday against Roswell High at The Mack.