4A softball: Salpointe over Cactus 6-5 in extra innings
May 15, 2019 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365
Is it possible for history to repeat itself? I guess it depends on one’s point of view. For Salpointe, a 6-5 victory over Cactus Tuesday night at Hillenbrand Stadium on the University of Arizona campus gave the Lancers their second 4A state championship in a row over the Cobras. For Cactus, controversy once again came into play.
A loss to Ironwood Ridge in the 2016 Division II state championship game by the Cobras was, in many ways, defined by a home run that was ruled a double. ASU’s Farrington Stadium has support beams located just a few feet beyond the outfield wall and, when Emilie Guerra’s shot hit off one of those beams and bounced back into play, it was mistakenly ruled a double, preventing a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning.
Last year, with the game tied 0-0 in the fifth, Alyssa Ortiz reached on a bunt and Yannira Acuna followed with a triple and she scored on an errant throw on the play for what turned out to be the final margin of 2-0. Except, the Cobras believed Aubrey Chavez threw Ortiz out on the bunt.
This year, with the game tied 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth, Anjolee Aguilar-Beaucage hit a short fly to edge of the grass in right field with one out, a runner at third base and a runner at first. Hannaqh Difabio came up with the catch but the sacrifice fly was just deep enough for Logan Cole to tag at third and dash home for the win.
The Salpointe bench rushed the field and the Cobras started walking off the field. The umpires were about to leave the field and but they were called back when someone on the Cobra staff realized the runner at first did not tag up, which would have been the third out had the ball been thrown to first. Instead, the ball was thrown away towards right field and the ball used to protest at first base was actually retrieved from behind home plate.
After a lengthy discussion with the coaches and umpires, the 6-5 final in eight innings was upheld.
The loss in no way diminishes the accomplishments of Cactus (32-4), head coach Bartt Underwood and the Cobras. Underwood picked up win number 200 at Cactus (over 600 total) in the second round of the playoffs and his team responded to a 15-3 thumping by Canyon del Oro in the third round by beating the Dorados twice in the semifinal round last Saturday to advance to their third championship game in four years. The only “miss” was a 10-inning loss to Sunrise Mountain in the semifinals in 2017.
Salpointe (25-4) joined an elite class of teams from Southern Arizona with four or more state championships and the Lancers were able to do it in front of a home crowd in the newly remodeled Hillenbrand Stadium with Arizona coach Mike Candrea in attendance.
The Lancers looked like they were going to end this game early after Diana Miranda-Montano doubled in Cole and Kim McDaniels singled in Miranda-Montano to go up 2-0 in the bottom of the first. Cole knocked in Yannixa Acuna to make it 3-0 after two.
The Cobras threatened in the top of the third after Difabio doubled with two outs and Alynah Torres followed with a shot to left field but Acuna fired home just in time to get Difabio out at the plate for the third out.
Torres is headed to ASU next year and Acuna’s older sister, Yannira Acuna, was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team last week for the Sun Devils.
McKenna Feringa held the Lancers scoreless over the next three innings but the Cobras started to get hot despite the dominating performance from Alyssa Aguilar. Aguilar finished with 10 strikeouts but Feringa helped herself out with an RBI to score Tanya Windle in the fourth and Torres and Windle brought in three runs in the fifth to give the Cobras a 4-3 lead.
That scored held up until Elise Munoz came up with a pinch-hit RBI to tie the game up in the sixth and Cole put the Lancers up 5-4 later in the inning. Down 5-4, Torres and Windle reached to lead off the seventh and Kaytlin Leyvas scored Torres on a sacrifice fly to tie the game up 5-5.
Kayla Gonzales and Cole reached to start off the bottom of the eighth and Malaea Rocha reached on a fielder’s choice with Gonzales thrown out at home on the play. Cole advanced the third on the play and Aguilar-Beaucage followed with her game-winning sacrifice fly.
Feringa (19-2) finished with seven strikeouts, Grace Seale went 3-for-4, Windle went 2-3 with two RBI, Torres went 2-4 and Difabio had two doubles. For Salpointe, Aguilar (22-3) had her 10 strikeouts and she went 2-3 at the plate. Cole and McDaniels also had two hits each.
Torres and Carson Gambs are the only seniors on the Cobra roster so expect another championship run next year. Likewise, Rocha says goodbye to two seniors including her daughter Malaea Rocha.
Amy Rocha played for the University of Arizona and Malaea will be playing for Utah State next year. Aguilar-Beaucage’s aunt, Marcie Aguilar, also played for the Wildcats.