Softball: CDO over Sahuaro 6-3by Andy Morales on Mar. 25, 2013, under Sports
Canyon del Oro (17-3) and Sahuaro (13-7) met in their annual midseason match Monday and the Dorados came out on top 6-3. It was CDO’s fourth victory in a row over the Cougars dating back to the 2011 4A-I semifinals but this one was not decided until the final pitch.
With CDO up 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, senior Taylor Lawson singled to left field and junior Hannah Gradillas walked to put the tying run at the plate with two outs. Senior Brooklyn Beardshear is not only the team’s ace in the circle, she is also one of the best percentage hitters, right behind her teammate, junior Amy Bergeson.
Beardshear is batting an unofficial .444 with 13 RBIs, 8 doubles and 2 home runs this year. The table was set for some late-game heroics but the pitcher usually wins those battles and CDO senior pitcher Alexis Alfonso proved no different as she threw outside for a called third-strike to end the game on the full-count pitch.
Both teams are loaded with college talent and the result may prove different in a rematch but that can only happen if both teams make it to the post season.
Alfonso started strong by retiring the first five batters she faced until sophomore Andie Larkins singled to center with two outs in the second inning. Alfonso took care of the next four batter but Lawson and Gradillas forced the issue in the bottom of the fourth after both reached on infield errors with no outs.
Lawson came around to score on the second error and Gradillas wound up on third base. Alfonso picked up an out but senior Savannah Fuller singled home Gradillas for the second run.
Larkins singled again and Fuller moved to third on the play. CDO sophomore third baseman Heather Knight pulled the defensive play of the game by tagging Fuller after fielding a hard-hit grounder by junior Amanda Nicholas. Knight then turned and fired to first base for the double play.
CDO was able to get two runners on in the top of the first inning on back-to-back hits by juniors Samantha Nettling and Niki Gonzalez but Beardshear retired the next two batters to end the threat.
CDO broke through in the second with six runs on hits by sophomore Monique Castillo, freshman Carli Campbell, Nettling, Gonzalez, junior Makenzie Sullivan and Knight.
Castillo reached on a one-out hit and then Campbell reached one out later. Sophomore Jordyn Binnion was hit-by-pitch to load the bases and then Nettling singled to right field to score two runs.
Freshman Sierra Gaskill came in to run for Nettling and she scored along with Binnion after Gonzalez doubled them both in to put CDO up 4-0. Sullivan scored Gonzalez on another double and then Knight brought in Sullivan to make it 6-0.
Junior Gina Snyder replaced Beardshear in the circle and she was able to induce a pop fly to end further damage.
Snyder gave up a hit-by-pitch in the third inning but Nicholas was able to pick off the next runner after a fielder’s choice to help Snyder retire eight straight batters until Knight singled with one out in the top of the fifth inning. Snyder then removed the next four batters until Binnion drew a two-out walk in the sixth and then Nettling got on but Snyder shut down the final four CDO batters to keep the game in reach.
Down 6-2, Sahuaro added another run in the fifth after Bergeson reached on a two-out single and Lawson reached on an infield hit. Gradillas singled in Bergeson but Alfonso ended the Sahuaro threat with an infield pop fly.
Sahuaro was able to get a runner on in the sixth on an error but Alfonso retired six of the next seven batters before giving up the hit and walk to Lawson and Gradillas.
Alfonso gave up one earned run in seven innings. With only two strikeouts, the Eastern Arizona commit relied on 17 infield outs to keep the victory. Likewise, Beardshear and Snyder combined for only three strikeouts but CDO was able to put together a string of hits early for the difference.
There were only two walks in the game which was another sign of the ability of both teams to put the ball in play.
For Sahuaro, Lawson went 2-4, Gradillas had an RBI single, Fuller had an RBI single and Larkins went 2-3. Bergeson picked up a single in the game.
Nettling went 3-4 with 2 RBIs, Gonzalez went 2-4 with a double and 2 RBIs, Sullivan had an RBI double, Knight went 2-3 with an RBI, Castillo singled as did Campbell for CDO.
Sahuaro is on break and will travel to Catalina (1-7) on April 4 and CDO will visit Ironwood Ridge (12-6) on April 2. One of the quirks of computer scheduling involves the home-and-home series between The Ridge and CDO and between Cienega (14-1).
CDO is in Division II and Cienega is in Division I. The scheduling Gods have made it impossible for the two teams to meet this year which is too bad because Cienega is ranked 12th in the nation according to the MaxPreps computers and CDO is ranked 13th.