Don Ketchum
Former Staff Writer,

Long wait over -- Mtn. Ridge reaches softball title game

May 14, 2014 by Don Ketchum, AZPreps365

Glendale Mountain Ridge’s softball team gave up a run to Scottsdale Chaparral in the top of the first inning of their Division I winner’s bracket game on Wednesday night (May 14). But it didn’t seem to faze the Mountain Lions one bit.

They stuck to their game plan when they batted in their half of the first.

First batter, first pitch – bunt single. Second batter, first pitch – bunt single. Third batter – walk. Fourth batter – two-run single. Fifth batter – Fielder’s choice grounder and another run.

Just like that, Mountain Ridge led 3-1 and would not surrender another run the rest of the way, finishing with a 4-1 win and earning a spot in the state championship game for the first time in school history.

The fourth-seeded Mountain Lions will travel to Arizona State’s Farrington Stadium for the title game on Monday night (May 19) at 7:45. They will face the winner of Friday night’s (May 16) elimination bracket game between No. 7 Chaparral and No. 2 Mesa Red Mountain. Chaparral defeated four-time defending champ Red Mountain 5-2 earlier in the tournament.

Meanwhile, Mountain Ridge coach Michelle Markham and her players are walking on air.

“We’ve waited for so long,’’ she said. “We’ve been third a few times and fifth. We’re sticking with the odd number this time and now we’ve got a chance to be No. 1.

“Tonight, we stuck to our game plan and we executed beautifully. We haven’t worked with the short game (bunting) a lot this year, but we were able to do it tonight.’’

Bailey Gaffin and Taylor Kaye got things rolling with the bunts. Corrin Green walked and Alyssa DiCarlo smacked a two-run single to right off Chaparral left-hander Dallas McBride. Kaylin Ayotte’s fielder’s choice accounted for the third run.

McBride was clearly frustrated by the turn of events, but she bore down and didn’t allow another run until the fifth, when Green hit a run-scoring single.

DiCarlo, the next batter, then took a fastball right square in the back, raising the ire of Markham, the team’s dugout and fans. They claimed it was intentional. McBride has pitched inside on other occasions this season, trying to claim her half of the plate.

After giving up the run on two hits and an error in the first, Mountain Ridge left-hander Giselle Juarez was steady in the circle. She gave up four hits the rest of the way.

Mountain Ridge left fielder Riley Seegan made the defensive play of the game, robbing McBride of what looked to be a possible home run to lead off the fifth.