Two East Region teams fall in state softball tourney semifinals

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Class of 2022 members, from left, Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar, Devanie Medina, Delicia Roybal, Elianna Cazares, and Celine Berube finished out their senior season with a 17-9 overall record. Morenci fell to Horizon Honors in the state tourney first round on May 6.

Morenci bows out in the first round

By Raymundo Frasquillo

PHOENIX – Five of the six East Region members entered the 16-team first round of the 2A state softball tourney on May 6. Two remained a week later before falling in the semifinals.

The East Region was the only region of seven having all six members ranked in the Top 24. The entrants included champion Benson (9-1 region), runner-up Willcox (7-3), third place Morenci (7-3), fourth place Pima (3-7), and fifth place Bisbee (3-7). The sixth member, Tombstone (0-10 region), was eliminated during the play-in round on May 3.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Courtesy runner Celine Berube advances to third base. The Morenci senior batted .400 during 17 games played.

Five of six West, four of five Central, three of seven North, two of three Metro, two of four South, and two of four Valley Region teams were in the Top 24 ranking of 35 teams. Two champions and two runners-up remain for the semifinals.

Top-ranked Benson (15-1 seeding, 17.8274 rating) fell to No. 5 Kingman Academy (13-3, 11.1055), 0-3, and No. 6 Willcox (13-3, 10.0204) fell to No. 2 Eagar Round Valley (16-1, 15.4200), 4-5. Both contests took place at 7 p.m. in the Phoenix Rose Mofford Softball Complex, 9833 N. 25th Ave.

Round Valley will now play Kingman Academy for the 2A State Championship on Friday, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Farrington Softball Stadium at Arizona State University, 510 S. Athletes Pl., in Tempe. 

Benson eliminated No. 16 Bisbee (6-10, minus 1.3503) 15-1 in five innings during the first round on May 6 and No. 8 Flagstaff Northland Prep (16-4, 7.9801) 10-5 in the quarterfinals on May 7.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Keirah Chee delivers a pitch during the final home game. The Morenci junior finished with an 11-5 record and a 4.22 earned run average, yielded 94 hits, struck out 64, walked 28, and beaned six while facing 362 batters during 76 1/3 innings.

Kingman Academy ousted No. 12 Saint Johns (9-9, 0.8953) 7-0 in the first round and No. 4 Eloy Santa Cruz (13-2, 11.5652) 8-3 in the quarterfinals.

Willcox defeated No. 11 Chandler Prep (12-4, 1.0944) 15-5 during five innings in the first round and No. 3 Mohave Valley River Valley (12-1, 14.2777) 6-4 in the quarterfinals.

Round Valley sent home No. 15 Phoenix Christian (11-6, minus 1.1104) 10-0 during five innings in the first round and 10-2 in the quarterfinals.

First-round exits were also made by No. 7 Morenci (11-5, 8.5403) 3-7 to Horizon Honors, No. 9 Glendale Trivium Prep (9-5, 2.9974) 0-10 in six innings to Northland Prep, No. 13 Laveen Heritage (9-6, 0.3322) 6-16 to Santa Cruz, and No. 14 Pima (7-9, minus 0.1540) 2-15 in five innings to River Valley.

Play-in Round

There were no upsets as all eight of the lower seeds meeting in the May 3 play-in round were eliminated.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior Elianna Cazares stretches to stop the ball from getting out of the infield. The senior infielder posted the third-best team fielding average with .828, recording 32 putouts, 10 assists, 10 errors, and two double plays.

Twenty-fourth ranked Phoenix Country Day School (6-9, minus 8.3282) fell 1-14 to No. 9 Trivium Prep, No. 23 Avondale Saint John Paul II Catholic (5-15, minus 8.3658) fell 0-1 to No. 10 Horizon Honors, No. 22 Tombstone (4-14, minus 8.2343) fell 19-33 to No. 11 Chandler Prep, No. 21 Glendale Desert Heights Prep (6-8, minus 7.6669) fell 0-10 in five innings to No. 12 Saint Johns, No. 20 Sedona Red Rock (5-7, minus 4.6113) fell 2-12 in five innings No. No. 13 Heritage, No. 19 Ganado (10-5, minus 4.0904) fell 2-11 to No. 14 Pima, No. 18 Miami (7-10, minus 3.9299) fell 0-10 in five innings to No. 15 Phoenix Christian, and No. 17 Phoenix North Pointe Prep (9-7, minus 3.5560) fell 6-17 to No. 16 Bisbee.

Horizon Honors – 7, Morenci – 3

“It is uncharted territory,” sixth-year Morenci head coach Joseph Garcia said. “This is the first time a team I’ve coached (in 10 years) has been eliminated in the first round, baseball or softball. We will reload and be back next year.”

Garcia is 94-46-1 (.667) overall, 64-22 (.744) seeding, 45-12 (.789) region, 6-5 (.545) in the state playoffs as a head softball coach plus 79-29 (.731) overall, 20-4 (.833) region, 17-5 (.773) section and 3-4 (.429) state playoffs as the Willcox head baseball coach during four seasons (2010-13).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Alicia Cruz readies herself to move with the ball being put in play against Miami. The junior batted .471 (33-70), drove in 22 runs, and scored 25 runs. She stole seven bases in seven attempts during 25 games played.

Horizon Honors went three up and three down during its initial plate appearance while Morenci led 2-0 after a complete inning of play, having sent eight batters to the plate, but it would be short-lived.

The Eagles scored three runs in the second with seven batters and went ahead to stay in the third, scoring three more with another seven batters.

“We hit the ball, just couldn’t score any runs,” Garcia said. “They had a very good pitcher.”

The emergency vehicles send off numbered more than the runs scored by the Wildcats.

Morenci batted .318 (7-22), stranded 10 runners, and committed two errors compared to .214 (6-28), five runners left on, and two errors for Horizon Honors.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Delicia Roybal has face black applied by teammate Devanie Medina before a game. The senior infielder finished the season with a team second-best .923 fielding average, recording 16 putouts, 20 assists, three errors, and a double play.

Sophomore Alizabeth Aguilar batted 1.000 (3-3, double), senior Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar .500 (2-4), senior Devanie Medina (RBI), and junior Alicia Cruz both .250 (1-4), and sophomore Kay’Leigh Blair 0-3 (RBI).

In the circle, freshman Cameryn Woodall allowed one earned run, five hits, walked five, and struck out one while facing 33 batters during seven innings.

Horizon Honors had senior Lillian Wilson (2-4, RBI) and juniors Lucy Holweger (2-4, RBI) and Hailey Johnson (1-2) batting .500 apiece, and junior Sara Wells .250 (1-4).

In the circle, Holweger allowed one earned run, yielded six hits, struck out 12, walked five, and beaned one while facing 36 batters during seven innings.

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