If the Cienega Bobcats softball team feels pressure from learning last week it is ranked in a national poll, it isn’t showing it.
Cienega’s offense broke out for nine runs, including an inside-the-park grand slam, in the first inning Tuesday against visiting Phoenix Thunderbird en route to a five inning, 17-0 win, its 11th straight at home.
“I think it’s a mind-set. We were talking to the girls about that,” said Cienega coach Eric Tatham about the team being ranked No. 50 in the preseason ESPN Rise Fab 50 poll.
“We’re not going to sneak up on anybody this year. We just have to take care of business and play Bobcat softball,” he said. “We’re up-and-coming and hopefully we can play to that and be worthy of it.”
U 2-0 and with the bases loaded, infielder Amanda Taylor sent the second pitch from Thunderbird pitcher Caitlin Johnson into the left-field corner over the head of Chrissy Schmitter.
Before Thunderbird was able to get the ball home, Taylor had flown around the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam and a 6-0 Cienega lead.
“I was just pumped up and ready to go,” said Taylor, a senior who added a double in the third and finished with six RBIs. “Any pitch, I was ready to hit.”
Junior center fielder Morghan Doughty picked up three RBIs, going 4 for 4 with a double and a triple.
Cienega pitcher Alexa Cash struck out the side in the first three innings before being pulled for Brittany Johnson in the fourth inning.
“It’s really easy when you have a solid team behind you,” said Cash, who added two doubles on offense. “The defense will handle anything and the offense will come around strong and it made it easy knowing they were there. I know it is exciting whenever we get recognized in (a national poll).”
Johnson struck out three and gave up Thunderbird’s only hit, a double by Taylor Ayotte in the fifth inning.
Tatham said, “With something like (getting ranked in a national poll) happening, it’s nice because it’s a team award.”
Cienega has played twice this season and has been dominant.
The Bobcats outscored their two opponents 31-1, including 14-1 over Marana on Feb. 25.
The Bobcats compete later this week in the Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City and later this month in the prestigious Nike Faster to First tournament in Huntington Beach, Calif.
On March 30, Cienega hosts fellow Tucson-area national power Canyon del Oro, ranked No. 2 in the ESPN Rise Fab 50 Poll.
CDO was a 7-0 winner Tuesday on the road at Glendale Cactus.
Catalina Foothills 9, Sabino 2: At Foothills, Stephanie Carramusa hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning, setting the early pace for the Falcons, who benefited from seven Sabino errors.
Sahuaro 10, Phoenix Paradise Valley 0: At Paradise Valley, Kira White and Courtney McCoy combined on a seven-inning, one-hit shut out to improve to 7-2 on the season.
Sunnyside 11, Tolleson 0: At Sunnyside, pitcher Estella Pinon improved to 5-0 by throwing a five-inning no hitter.
- High School Sports Editor Geoff Grammer contributed to this article.