Morenci Wildcats take on No. 1 Cowgirls in Willcox on Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Alicia Cruz (2) covers the distance from third base to home plate in a short time. After striking out, the Morenci senior singled, doubled, walked, drove in three runs plus scored thrice against Pima. Morenci visits Willcox on Friday, March 31.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

WILLCOX – The Joseph Garcia-coached No. 10 Morenci Wildcats take on the top-ranked Willcox Cowgirls on Friday, March 31. The teams met four weeks ago in Morenci with the Cowgirls getting a 3-run win over the Wildcats.

Also on Friday, No. 29 Tombstone visits No. 4 Benson for a region doubleheader, and No. 21 Pima visits 1A No. 20 Fort Thomas in a non-region pairing.

Earlier this week (March 27-April 1) in region pairings, Morenci blanked Pima 16-0 (5 inn.) and Bisbee defeated Tombstone 24-3 (4 inn.) on March 28; Willcox downed Bisbee 9-3 on March 29.

Non-region games included Willcox 15-1 (5 inn.) over Miami on March 28, Benson edged Round Valley 7-6 on March 29, and Pima defeated Miami 16-6 on March 30.

East Region Standings

The region standings after March 24 have Willcox (18-2-1 overall, 9-0 seeding, 4-0 region) first, Benson (11-8-1, 5-3, 3-1) second, Morenci (9-8, 5-3, 2-2) third, Bisbee (7-7, 3-3, 2-3) fourth, Pima (5-6, 2-5, 1-3) fifth, and Tombstone (2-10, 0-5, 0-3) sixth.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Nevaeh Aguilar (13) sprints to second base against Pima. The Morenci senior singled on and stole second. She has a .500 (2-4, RBI) batting average, is 7-7 as a base runner, and has scored seven runs during nine games.

The March 16 Tombstone at Morenci region game was canceled and is yet to be rescheduled.

Thus far, Willcox (4-0) has region wins of 9-6 over Morenci (March 3), 8-7 over Benson (March 14), 18-1 in five innings over Tombstone (March 21), and 9-3 over Bisbee (March 29); Benson (3-1) 11-0 in five innings over Bisbee (March 7), 14-10 over Morenci (March 8), and 19-3 in four innings over Pima (March 10); Morenci (2-2) 19-1 in five innings over Bisbee (March 4) and 16-1 over Pima in five innings (March 28); Bisbee (2-3) 11-10 over Pima (March 14), and 24-3 in four innings over Tombstone (March 28); and Pima (1-3) defeated Tombstone 16-2 in five innings (March 7).

2A State Rankings

The initial 2A state rankings listed at noon on March 28 had the Top 24 members as 6-of-7 (.857) from the West Region, 4-5 (.800) from the South Region, 4-6 (.667) from the East Region, 2-3 (.667) from the Metro Region, 4-7 (.571) from the North Region, 3-6 (.500) from the Central Region, and 1-3 (.333) from the Valley Region.

East Region Willcox (7-0 seeding, 13.7499 rating) was No. 1, South Region Phoenix Horizon Honors (5-0, 11.6906) No. 2, North Region Eagar Round Valley (5-0, 10.3813) No. 3, South Region Eloy Santa Cruz Valley (5-2, 8.0766) No. 4, West Region Bullhead City Mohave Accelerated (4-0, 7.9891) No. 5, West Region Laveen Heritage (3-0, 6.9564) No. 6, East Region Benson (4-3, 5.5007) No. 7, Metro Region Phoenix Country Day School (4-1, 5.4684) No. 8, North Region Saint Johns (3-2, 2.8713) No. 9, and West Region Glendale Trivium Prep (5-2, 2.7300) No. 10.

Central Region Phoenix Christian (4-2, 2.5374) was No. 11, East Region Morenci (4-3, 2.4117) No. 12, West Region Kingman Academy (4-2, 2.3928) No. 13, Central Region Flagstaff Northland Prep (3-1, 1.9654) No. 14, West Region Avondale Saint John Paul II Catholic (5-4, 1.1635) No. 15, West Region Phoenix Arizona Lutheran (3-2, 0.0783) No. 16, Central Region Glendale Prep (3-2, 0.4577) No. 17, South Region Chandler Prep (3-3, 0.0783) No. 18, East Region Bisbee (2-2, minus 0.1278) No. 19, and South Region Tucson Saint Augustine Catholic (3-2, minus 2.5909) No. 20.

Metro Region Phoenix Madison Highland Prep (2-4, minus 3.2915) was No. 21, North Region Pinon (0-2, minus 3.3460) No. 22, North Region Many Farms (2-3, minus 5.0443) No. 23, and Valley Region Miami (1-7, minus 5.3541) No. 24.

The East Region members were ranked No. 1 Willcox (7-0 seeding, 13.7499 rating), No. 7 Benson (4-3, 5.5007), No. 12 Morenci (4-3, 2.4117), No. 19 Bisbee (2-2, minus 0.1278), No. 26 Pima (1-4, minus 6.8386), and No. 30 Tombstone (0-4, minus 10.3869).

Willcox Cowgirls (18-2-1, 9-0, 4-0)

The Trevor Ward-coached Cowgirls have won 18 of 21 games played through March 29.

Willcox has seeding wins of 16-0 in five innings over Phoenix Madison Highland Prep (Feb. 27), 9-6 over Morenci (March 3), 6-3 over Eloy Santa Cruz (March 7), 10-0 over Thatcher (March 8), 8-7 over Benson (March 14), 18-1 in five innings over Tombstone (March 21), 23-1 in five innings over Queen Creek Crimson (Match 24), 15-1 in five innings over Miami (March 28), and 9-3 over Bisbee (March 29).

The Cowgirls went 5-0-1 and 4-2 in abbreviated games during the 2-day Douglas tourney and 4-2 during the 2-day Payson tourney.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Jesse Gonzalez (15) begins her delivery. The Willcox senior has struck out 151, walked 22, beaned four, allowed 68 hits including four home runs, yielded 25 earned runs of 48 scored, and has a 1.90 earned runs allowed average while facing 393 batters during 92 innings.

Willcox defeated Nogales 6-3 in five innings and Tucson Cholla 11-6 in four innings on March 10, and Bisbee 9-2 in four innings, Safford 7-1 in five innings, and Saint David 11-4 on March 11 in Douglas. The tie was 5-5 in five innings with Saint David (March 10).

In Payson, the wins were 4-0 in five innings over Show Low (March 17), 10-0 in four innings over Camp Verde (March 17), 13-1 in four innings over Fountain Hills (March 18), and 1-0 in five innings over Winslow (March 18), The losses were 3-18 in three innings to Tucson Sabino (March 17) and 0-6 in five innings to Phoenix Sunnyslope (March 18).

The Cowgirls (18-2-1) face Morenci with a .396 (190-480) batting and .884 (321-363) fielding average. The Wildcats have driven in 156 of 194 runs, and posted 46 doubles, eight triples, and six home runs as well as struck out 81 times, drawn 86 walks, were beaned 13 times, had 12 sacrifice hits/bunts, and stole 68-71 bases.

In the circle, a 2-member pitching corps has a 2.15 earned runs allowed average. Willcox has allowed 38 earned runs of 69 scored, yielded 95 hits in 438 at-bats (.217) with four home runs, struck out 169, walked 30, and beaned four while facing 472 batters during 106 innings.

Defensively, two double plays have been turned in.

Morenci Wildcats (9-8, 5-3, 2-2)

The Wildcats have gone the regulation length thrice in eight seeding games played thus far, each ending in losses. They have also gone 3-2 and 1-3 in nine time-limited tourney games.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Kay’Leigh Blair (1) takes a few swings before stepping into the batters’ box during a recent at-bat. The Morenci junior is the lead-off batter with a .356 (16-45) batting average, six RBIs, three doubles, as well as eight strikeouts and 19 walks. The Morenci junior has a .547 On Base Percentage, .442 Slugging Percentage, and.969 On Base plus Slugging Percentage.

Morenci has seeding wins of 22-2 during five innings over Miami (Feb 27), 19-1 in five innings over Bisbee (March 11), 31-2 in four innings over Miami (March 10), 22-0 in five innings over San Carlos (March 14), and 16-0 in five innings over Pima (March 28). The losses were 6-9 to Willcox (March 3), 10-14 to Benson (March 8), and 5-6 to Round Valley (March 22).

The Wildcats posted wins of 12-7 over Apollo in three innings (Feb. 23), 18-3 in three innings over Avondale La Jolla Community (Feb. 24), and 2-1 in five innings over Apollo (Feb. 24) during the 3-day Glendale Apollo Cool Nights Tourney. The losses were 6-7 in four innings to Florence (Feb. 23) and 5-10 in five innings to Avondale West Point (Feb. 25).

Morenci defeated Saint Johns 6-1 in five innings (March 23) during the 2-day Chandler Prep tourney. The losses were 0-1 in five innings to Page (March 23), 9-12 in five innings to Bagdad (March 24), and 0-18 in six innings to Santa Cruz (March 24).

The Wildcats (9-8) face Willcox with a .432 (176-407) batting and .802 (199-248) fielding average. The Wildcats have driven in 156 of 185 runs and posted 49 doubles, three triples, and 14 home runs as well as struck out 84 times, drawn 81 walks, were beaned 23 times, had six sacrifice flies, eight sacrifice hits/bunts, and stole 30-31 bases.

In the circle, a 4-member pitching corps has a 3.58 earned runs allowed average. Morenci has allowed 43 earned runs out of 93 scored, yielded 69 hits in 362 at-bats (.188) with 11 doubles, and three home runs, struck out 97, walked 44, and beaned 10 while facing 422 batters during 84 innings.

Defensively, 12 double plays have been turned in and opponents have 16 stolen bases in 21 attempts.

Morenci – 16, Pima – 0 (5 inn,)

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Briseis Hudman (6) looks the ball into her glove behind the plate. The Morenci senior catcher has largely helped the Wildcats with her running on the base paths, stealing 9-9 while inserted in 15 games.

The Wildcats welcomed the No. 26 Roughriders as No. 12 following the newly released rankings a few hours earlier.

Pima was limited to three up and three down through the first three innings, with six strikeouts and three ground outs. The Roughriders went through their batting order a second time, with four stepping to the plate in the fourth and five in the sixth. A lone single runner reached third with two outs before a strikeout left her there in the fourth. And, a two-out walk and fielding error left two on as a strikeout ended the threat and game after five.

Morenci crossed the plate twice (2-0) during its initial plate appearance, three times (5-0) in the second, six times (11-0) in the third, and five times (16-0) in the fourth.

The Wildcats sent eight up during their first at-bat. A one-out full-count walk of junior Alizabeth Aguilar, a two-out single by senior Mia Ontiveros, and a full-count walk by senior Celina Manuz loaded the bases. Junior Celeis Bejarano doubled in Aguilar and Ontiveros (2-0), sophomore Cameryn Woodall walked to re-load the bases, but a strike out left two runners on.

Seven Wildcats stepped to the plate in the second. Back-to-back walks for freshman Jaliyah Hernandez and junior Kay’Leigh Blair had an Aguilar fielder’s choice put two runners on for senior Alicia Cruz. She singled in Blair (3-0) and Ontiveros doubled in Aguilar (4-0) and Cruz (5-0) before getting tagged by a relayed ball from the outfield for the second out. Manuz received her second full-count walk but was left on by a ground out.

Twelve Wildcats took their turn with a bat in the third. Woodall was beaned while in the batters’ box to get on, Hernandez drew a one-out walk, Blair received a walk to load the bases, senior courtesy runner Nevaeh Aguilar stole home (6-0), Cruz doubled in Hernandez (7-0) and Blair (8-0) with two outs, Ontiveros singled in Cruz (9-0), Manuz walked, Bejarano was beaned to load the bases, and Woodall singled in Ontiveros (10-0) and Manuz (11-0) before the next batter struck out.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Joseph Garcia gives the batter the sign, both verbally and visually from third base. The Morenci head coach is in his seventh season as the head coach, with records of 104-55-1 (.650) overall, 69-25 (.734) seeding, 47-14 (.770) region, and 6-5 (.545) state meet to date.

Ten Wildcats batted in the fourth. Hernandez drew a lead-off walk, Cruz received a two-out walk, Ontiveros doubled in Hernandez (12-0) and Cruz (13-0), Manuz got beaned, senior Keirah Chee doubled in Ontiveros (14-0) and Manuz (15-0), freshman Shaylee Wichmann drew a walk, and senior Nevaeh Aguilar singled in Chee (16-0) before the third out was recorded.

Morenci batted .524 (11-21), left eight runners on, and made two errors compared to .000 (1-17), three runners, and no errors by Pima.

Ontiveros (4-4, 2 doubles, 5 RBIs), Woodall (1-1, 2 RBIs), senior Nevaeh Aguilar (1-1, RBI), senior Keirah Chee (1-1, double, 2 RBIs) each batted 1.000, senior Alicia Cruz .667 (2-3, double, 3 RBIs), Bejarano .500 (1-double, 2 RBIs), and Aguilar .333 (1-3).

Woodall went the distance in the circle, striking out eight, walking one, and yielding a lone hit while facing 18 batters during five innings.

For Pima, Megan Carbajal batted .500 (1-2).

In the circle, senior Bailey Boren struck out four, walked 12, beaned three, and yielded 10 hits while facing 36 batters during four innings.

Round Valley – 6, Morenci – 5

The Wildcats crossed home four times during their initial plate appearance, added six in the second, three in the third, and nine in the fourth while the visiting Braves went 0-14 at the plate and reached first thrice, on a walk and beaned twice for an abbreviated contest.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Celina Manuz (9) awaits a throw to second base behind the runner. The senior shortstop has an .846 (33-39) fielding average through 17 games.

Morenci batted .426 (12-26), eight of ten batters recorded at least one of 12 hits and drove in at least one of 15 runs batted in, struck out once, drew 10 walks, and was beaned twice. The Wildcats posted a 1.000 (15-15) fielding average.

Hudman batted 1.000 (1-1, triple, 2 RBIs), Aguilar .750 (3-4, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs), Cruz and Ontiveros (double) both .667 (2-3, RBI), Manuz .500 (1-2, 3 RBIs), Blair and Woodall both .333 (1-3, RBI) and Gallegos .250 (1-4, double, 3 RBIs).

In the circle, Woodall struck out 11, walked one, beaned one, and gave up no hits while facing 13 batters during four innings. Closer Chee struck out two, beaned one, and gave up no hits while facing our batters during one inning.