Desert Ridge's softball team is still angling for a top-8 berth in the Division I softball playoffs that begins in nine days. The Lady Jaguars pursuit of a first-round bye was verified Thursday afternoon with a 3-0 triumph over Hamilton at Hamilton High.
Sophomore Bailey Klitzke did the work in the circle tossing a five-hitter and striking out 11. Klitzke got the offensive support needed in the second inning on a three-run homer by right fielder Sarah Captain that sailed far and true over the left-field fence.
Hamilton (21-9 overall, 12-5 power-ranking games), enjoying a solid season after just missing the playoffs a year ago, was No. 6 in Thursday's power rankings. Desert Ridge (18-7-1, 11-5 prg) wasn't far back at No. 12. With two or three games remaining for most teams between now and next Wednesday (April 30), the battle for byes and playoff spots is ferocious.
"This keeps us in it," Desert Ridge coach Jennifer Broderick said. "We needed this one. We still have two tough ones left next week with Red Mountain and Mountain Pointe....... Bailey was outstanding. She's been good all season for us."
Klitzke, a left-hander, gave Hamilton a taste of what the game would be like in the first inning. She struck out four in the inning (one reached on a wild pitch) and that runner reached second via steal.
After the game Klitzke weighed at least five pounds more with ice packs on her shoulder elbow and instep. The shoulder and elbow packs were normal. The instep pack was courtesty of a ball ripped up the middle in the sixth by Kim Slaughter that Klitzke couldn't dodge.
The sixth inning was Klitzke's toughest as she surrendered two more hits after Slaughter's. The third hit coming with one out was lined to right by Christine Olivas where Captain fielded it and fired home. The throw was up the third-base line too far and skipped between Klitzke and catcher Hausenfluck. Slaughter broke for home, but was thrown out as Klitzke retrieved it and Hausenfluck got to home in time to cover and make the tag. The sixth ended for Hamilton with runners at second and third on a fly out to right.
Hamilton has a threat quickly douses in the fourth when second baseman Jordan St. Germain made a diving catch in short center-field and fired to first to double up the runner.
Desert Ridge managed the three-run second with one hit -- Captain's home run. The homer came off Hamilton sophomore Cheyenne Noli, who pitched well herself in the loss. Mariann Kennison was hit by a pitch to open the second and Klitzke reached on a fielder's choice on a sacrifice attempt. The throw on the bunt to nail the lead runner at second was late. That brought up Captain, who slammed a 2-2 pitch for her first homer of the year and the game's only runs.
Noli didn't miss bats like Klitzke did, but finished with a three-hitter. She allowed two base runners after the second -- both singles -- one each by Jordan St. Germain and Chryse Hausenfluck. Noli struck out two and walked one.
Hamilton has one game left next week against Perry as it tries to nail down a top-8 finish and first-round bye. Coach Rocky Parra's team was 15-16 last year and missed the playoffs by finishing 25th in the power rankings.
Hamilton (21-8, 12-4) vs. Desert Ridge (17-7-1, 11-4).