Softball: Canyon del Oro captures 8th title in dramatic winby Andy Morales on May. 15, 2012, under Sports
Championship Game: Monday, May 14
2 Canyon del Oro beat 1 Sunrise Mountain, 11-9
MORE PHOTOS: http://andymorales.smugmug.com/
And in the end, Kayla Bonstrom got to hit again.
Bonstrom had a very difficult night at the plate against Sunrise Mountain’s ace Taylor Nowlin. Nowlin had induced two fly balls from Bonstrom, making her officially 0-for-2 on the night heading into the top of the eighth inning with the scored tied 9-9.
Nowlin had hit Bonstrom twice in the game. It is debatable if Bonstrom was hit on purpose (at least once) rather than being intentionally walked but each instance proved disastrous for Nowlin – just like the eighth inning…
Bonstrom had entered the bottom of the seventh with a 9-4 lead but a couple of walks, a double by Nowlin, an infield hit by Michala Erickson and a grand slam by BYU-bound McKenzie St. Clair left the Dorados stunned as the Mustangs came back to tie the game with Bonstrom being one strike away from a state championship twice in the inning.
One chance for the win came on a bases-loaded walk issued to Melissa Sechrest (California State-Fullerton) and the second “championship point” came against St. Clair. One more strike to either of the girls and the game would have been over.
Nowlin, on the other hand, struggled most of the night and was only able to keep the Dorados off the bases twice in the game. Canyon del Oro had figured out her riseball early on so she had to mix it up a little bit – it’s the worst thing that can happen to a riseball pitcher.
Bonstrom and Sammi Noland (Nebraska) barely missed going long to start the game and their deep fly balls were easily caught but Sammy Nettling (Northwestern) pulled Nowlin’s next offering over the left field fence at Arizona State to put CDO on the board.
Kenzie Sullivan followed with a double but she was left stranded after St. Clair snared a line drive by Briana Dohogne to end the top half of the inning. Bonstrom held Sunrise Mountain in the first but St. Clair led off the second inning with a double.
Morgan Leonard collected an infield single and Nowlin doubled later in the inning to knock both of them in to give the Mustangs a 2-1 lead.
Nowlin hit Monique Castillo to start the top of the third and then Bonstrom got hit as Nowlin was trying to go inside instead of up top. A passed ball moved both runners over and Noland hit a fly ball to St. Clair.
Castillo was not going on the catch but the throw home was way off the mark and Castillo raced home for the unearned run to tie the game 2-2.
Sunrise Mountain got the two more runs in the bottom of third on a single by St. Clair that brought in Courtney Geith and Erickson.
Down 4-2, CDO unloaded on Nowlin for six runs in the top of the fourth to take a commanding 8-4 lead. Dohogne doubled to start it all off and Niki Gonzalez followed with a single.
Katelin Vaughn pulled Nowlin to left to score Dohogne and Castillo reached on an error one out later. Bonstrom came up with the bases loaded but it did not matter as another passed ball scored Gonzalez.
Bonstrom was hit-by-pitch on a changeup which draws into question the strategy involved with an open base available for Bonstrom. After Ironwood Ridge had intentionally walked Bonstrom four times to send the Dorados to the elimination bracket, first-year coach Stephanie Nicholson made a decision that changed the course of the post season.
Noland was moved to the two-spot to help protect Bonstrom. The move has resulted in an offensive explosion and Noland made Sunrise Mountain pay by hitting a grand slam to put CDO up 8-4.
Nettling and Sullivan hit hard line drives to follow the grand slam but they were hit right at the outfielders to end the inning.
Sunrise Mountain could do nothing against Bonstrom for the next three innings but Sullivan homered in the top of the seventh to give the Dorados a 9-4 lead.
And in the end, Bonstrom got to hit again.
The Mustangs made their dramatic comeback to tie the game but a tie does not equal a win. Hannah Sullivan led off the top of the eighth with a single and she moved to second base on a wild pitch.
Nowlin picked up a pop fly for her first out but that only meant Bonstrom was due up at the plate.
“She got me twice on the same pitch,” explained Bonstrom. “I was looking for it and got lucky.”
If “luck” includes hitting seven post-season home runs then I would hate to see what skill would bring her. The result was a line drive that left the field in a hurry to put CDO back up 11-9.
“I wanted that pitch back that I threw for the grand slam,” Bonstrom added. “The only way to get it back was to do my job as a lead-off hitter.”
Most lead-off batters don’t find the other side of the fence like Bonstrom does. It is doubtful that Stanford will put her in that position in college next year but it will not be the last time she will see one of her balls leave Farrington Softball Stadium on the ASU campus.
Canyon del Oro was not finished and Noland followed with a single and Nettling followed with another hit. A fielder’s choice and a fly ball prevented more damage and Bonstrom took the circle again.
Sunrise Mountain had nothing left for Bonstrom and she put the side down in order and finished with her sixth strike out of the game.
“We turned out to be a lot better than people anticipated,” Bonstrom added as the media surrounded her coach. The Phoenix area media was fixated on the past and wondered how a team from Southern Arizona could possibly win a championship without their usual standouts.
How dare they win this way….
Almost every player interviewed was asked the same question to a point where they should have just told the reporters to pick up the 2012 Dorado roster and study it and stop asking about who was no longer playing at CDO.
It was an obvious slight to the current Dorados. Further, both Ironwood Ridge and Sabino could have won this game also had they made it – that is how good the section from Southern Arizona was in Division II this year.
Nicholson responded by pointing out that she had seven seniors on her roster. “To end the game this way was the only way this game could have ended for them, “explained Nicholson.
“We have a tradition of winning and it doesn’t matter who is on the field.”
Bonstrom should be the leading candidate for the “Big School” player of the year if sanity prevails but only time will tell.
Who knows? If the Dorados win next year maybe they will ask that group how they could have won without Bonstrom…