Wildcats beat Elks in state tourney first round Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci third-year softball head coach Joseph Garcia calls out instructions to the next batter during a recent game.

Thatcher also moves on to second round while Pima falls in first round

By Raymundo Frasquillo

PHOENIX – The No.4-ranked Morenci softball team (17-9 overall, 13-4 seeding, 9-3 East Region for No. 2) beat Eagar Round Valley (15-16, 10-8, 5-2 North Region for No. 3) 6-4 in the Phoenix Rose Mofford Softball Complex, 9833 North 25th Avenue on Friday in the opening round of the state tournament.

The win propelled Morenci into a second-round matchup with No. 3 San Manuel, which was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., Saturday.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior pitcher Jaim’ee Rodriguez struck out four for every walk issued in taking the circle for Morenci’s 16-9 regular season.

In other softball action, No. 15 Pima fell to No. 2 Trivium Prep, 6-1 and No. 10 Thatcher beat No. 7 Northland Prep Academy 11-7.

Previously, through 25 games, the Wildcats’ combined team batting average is .391 (254-650), striking out 75 times, receiving 105 walks, and being beaned 32 times compared to .231 (125-540), 126 strikeouts, 34 walks, and beaned thrice for combined opponents.

Six Wildcats are batting over .400 and four others over .300 while playing in at least 17 of 25 games.

Sophomore Candace Forgach-Aguilar is batting .368 (14-38, 14 RBIs, 2 double) in 23 games, sophomore Hunter Lindsey .367 (22-60, 22 RBIs, 5 double, triple) in 25 games, senior Destiny Chavarria .324 (23-71, 21 RBIs, 6 doubles) in 25 games, and senior Jaim’ee Rodriguez .324 (22-68, 28 RBIs, 5 doubles, 5 home runs) in 25 games.

Junior Angel Ontiveros is batting .481 (39-81, 39 RBIs, 2 doubles, 2 triples, 9 home runs) in 25 games, junior Brigid Silvester .474 (36-76, 18 RBIs, 4 doubles, 2 triples) in 25 games, senior Dominique Garcia .429 (27-63, 24 RBIs, 8 doubles, home run) in 22 games, junior Jadyn Aguilera .421 (8-19, 3 RBIs) in 18 games, and senior Heather Lee .417 (25-60, 18 RBIs, 3 doubles) in 19 games.

Freshman Devanie Medina is batting .515 (17-33, 10 RBIs, 5 double, triple) in 17 games.

In the circle, Rodriguez has struck out 123, walked 33, beaned two, and yielded 122 hits during 130 1/3 innings.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci infielder Marissa Gallegos makes the force out at second, sending an Eagle to the dugout without scoring.

Top-ranked Benson (18-0 seeding, 12-0 region) finished first in the 2A East Region, No. 4 Morenci (12-4, 9-3) second, No. 10 Thatcher (11-8, 7-5) third, No. 12 Willcox (7-9, 7-5) fourth, No. 15 Pima (8-11, 4-8) fifth, No. 26 Tombstone (4-13, 2-10) sixth, and No. 27 Bisbee (5-13, 1-11) seventh. There are 44 teams in the conference.

In April, Morenci defeated Pima 16-0 in five innings April 2, Elfrida Valley Union 18-2 (4 inn) April 12, and Tombstone 21-0 (5 inn) plus 26-3 (5 inn) during a double-header April 20. The Wildcats fell 15-5 (6 inn) to Safford on April 15 and 5-1 at Benson on April 18.

The Wildcats downed Sells Baboquivari 18-1 April 22 and Thatcher 11-1 April 23, both in abbreviated home games.

Morenci – 11, Thatcher – 1

Trailing 2-0 after a full inning of play April 22, Devanie Medina belted a 2-out first pitch over the 200-foot fence to start an 8-run surge. Thatcher was on its third pitcher before the third out occurred.

The visitors trailed 8-4 with one out and one on in the top of the fifth when the power went out. It was not restored until the next day, the game was restarted, and Medina’s spark plug home run did not officially happen.

However, the Wildcats posted an 11-1 advantage over the Eagles to conclude the regular season.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Freshman Devanie Medina smiles as she rounds third base against Thatcher April 22. Her 2-out first-pitch home run ignited an 8-run rally, turning a 2-0 deficit into an 8-2 advantage by the time the third out was recorded. However, the power went out and not restored until the next day. The game was restarted and her home run did not officially happen.

2019 State Tourney

The top 16 teams squared off for the state tournament first round on the Rose Mofford Softball Complex, at 4 and 6 p.m., Friday, May 3. Early games had No. 1 Benson (18-0 seeding record, 20.5449 rating) blow out No. 16 Phoenix Christian (10-7, 0.3907) 24-0, No. 5 San Manuel (15-3, 8.4888) beat No. 12 Willcox (7-9, 3.1295) 12-2, No. 4 Morenci (12-4, 8.7873) beat. No. 13 Round Valley (10-7, 2.2225) 6-4, No. 3 Camp Verde (15-3, 14.4857) vs. No. 14 Laveen Heritage (10-6, 0.6027), No. 6 Globe (16-3, 8.4835) beat No. 11 Chandler Prep (12-4, 4.2731) 6-5, and No. 2 Goodyear Trivium Prep (17-0, 16.6080) beat No. 15 Pima (8-11, 0.5513) 6-1.

The later games had two upsets as No. 9 Phoenix Arizona Lutheran (14-4, 6. 6274) downed No. 8 Saint Johns (15-3, 6.5755) 8-2, and No. 10 Thatcher (10-7, 4.3635) beat No. 7 Flagstaff Northland Prep (13-3, 7.9372) 11-7.

Second round pairings or quarterfinals are the Benson versus Arizona Lutheran, San Manuel versus Morenci, Camp Verde – Heritage winner versus Globe, Thatcher versus Trivium Prep, all at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 4.

2019 Play-in Round

All eight pairings between the No. 9-24 rated teams were won by the higher seeds on May 1.

Advancing were No. 9 Arizona Lutheran, 8-6 over No. 24 Eloy Santa Cruz (6-9, minus 4.2050); No. 10 Thatcher, 20-9 over No. 23 Tonopah Valley (9-9, minus 2.7721); No. 11 Chandler Prep, 15-4 over No. 22 Parker (6-13, minus 2.5245); No. 12 Willcox, 16-8 over No. 21 Whiteriver Alchesay (10-8, minus 2.2197); No. 13 Round Valley, 6-1 over No. 20 Phoenix North Pointe Prep (9-9, minus 2.1133); No. 14 Heritage, 16-6 over No. 19 Scottsdale Christian (10-6, minus 1.1521); No. 15 Pima, 13-1 over No. 18 Wellton Antelope (11-5, minus 1.0265); and No. 16 Phoenix Christian, 10-9 over No. 17 Miami (9-7, minus 0.6209).

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