Cienega High School softball coach Eric Tatham remembers the postgame talk he had with his team after a 2-1 loss at Canyon del Oro in 2008.
“It was such a good game and what I remember,” Tatham recalls, “is sitting in a circle in the CDO outfield after that game and telling the team, ‘We’re really close.’ ”
At least for Monday evening, Cienega put “close” in the rearview mirror, upsetting nationally ranked and previously unbeaten CDO 1-0.
“The biggest thing about this victory is now they can believe we can beat anybody,” Tatham said.
“It’s one thing to be close. It’s another to get it done like we were able to do today. . . This was just such an exciting game and I’m so happy for them.”
CDO is 14-1; Cienega 10-6.
Like the 2008 game, Cienega junior pitcher Alexa Cash did all she could to try to match the star power of CDO counterpart Kenzie Fowler.
Cash struck out 11 hitters, allowing five hits and one extra base hit, a double to CDO sophomore Mattie Fowler.
The University of Arizona-bound Kenzie Fowler struck out 16 hitters, allowing four hits.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Cienega outfielder Morghan Doughty, who has committed to play collegiately at Colorado State, reached base on a single, stole second and later was driven in from third on a single by fellow junior Ashley Brawley.
CDO and Cienega were the only two Tucson-area teams in the ESPN Rise Fab 50 Preseason national rankings, but after six losses (five to California teams and one to Douglas), Cienega was dropped from the polls.
CDO has maintained its spot at No. 2 all season.
At Tanque Verde, senior pitcher Josh King struck out 12 and allowed eight hits and just two walks over seven innings, but it wasn’t enough in a 5-3 loss to visiting Valley Union.
Tanque Verde, ranked the No. 1 Class 1A team in the state in this week’s Arizona Baseball Coaches Association poll, committed three errors and wasn’t able to take advantage of having runners on first and third with no outs in the sixth.
The loss was Tanque Verde’s first in 1A South Region play, dropping the team to 14-4 overall and 6-1 in league action.
Empire 14, Florence 4 (5 innings): At Empire, the Ravens bats were hot early, scoring eight runs in the first inning.
Senior Scotty Watson hit a grand slam in the opening frame, setting the tone for a 14-hit performance for an Empire offense that finished with two doubles, three triples and one home run.
Junior Josh Elder picked up the win on the mound and helped at the plate with a double and a triple.
Fresh off his all-tournament team selection over the weekend at the Phoenix Brophy volleyball tournament, Salpointe Catholic all-state setter Pat Tunnell had 31 assists Monday, leading the Lancers to a sweep of Sunnyside 3-0 (25-10, 25-21, 25-17).
Tunnell also had three aces while teammate Mikey Smith had 13 kills in the win.
Salpointe took fourth in the Brophy tournament, one of the more prestigious of the season.
For more on high school sports, check out the Grammer School sports blog.