Desert Ridge encountered a rare battle in its early-season trevails Wednesday afternoon, given how the Jaguars softball team has taken care of business thus far.
With routs predominantly the order of the day, Desert Ridge tallied three times in the top of the seventh inning and secured a more comfortable 6-2 triumph over host Red Mountain in a 6A Conference game. Desert Ridge has played just two games in its first 10 decided by three runs or less. The Jaguars outscored opponents, 91-22, heading into Wednesday's game.
Sophomore Shaylee Ackerman continued her success in the circle and at the plate to help Desert Ridge collect its 10th win without a loss. Ackerman has opened the season batting .679 with 7 homers and 24 RBI the first 10 games. Red Mountain was intent on not pitching to her.
On Wednesday Ackerman got little to nothing to hit, but finished 1 for 1 with three walks and three runs scored. The hit was home run No. 7 -- a pitch up and away -- punched over the right field fence in the third inning. The homer tied the game at 1-1.
Ackerman, who scattered five hits and fanned six in gaining her eighth win, walked and scored in the fifth when Desert Ridge scored twice to lead for good, 3-1. Cleanup hiiter Sydney Broderick -- called on to sacrifice twice in that spot in the order executed both times. Holly Monson broke the 1-1 tie with a sharp two-run single to left. Ackerman's walk to open the seventh led to a three-run rally that made the inning less stressful in the bottom half. Monson drove in her third run of the game and Alanna Vela and Lanie Palacios capped the rally with RBI. Desert Ridge's 3-2 lead was 6-2 as Red Mountain hit for the final time.
"Shaylee has done a great job, and she's getting used to not getting pitched to," Desert Ridge coach Jennifer Broderick said. "With Syd and Holly behind Shaylee in the order, they know they'll have chances to contribute like they did today....
"So far it's been a whole team effort. Pitching, defense, hitting. Shaylee knows she has a good defense behind her. That takes some pressure off."
Red Mountain, has a mix of experience and inexperience as the season hits its third week. Several players played full varsity seasons last year. Some of those are playing different positions. That's made coach Rich Hamilton more patient with this year's squad, now 5-5.
"It came down to we have to catch the ball," Hamilton said. "We dropped the ball four times. At least a couple of their runs wouldn't have scored if we make the catch. There is inexperience if not from some kids getting their first shot on the varsity and others in different roles. I'm confident we'll be better later than we are now. We played a very good team today. A one-run game heading to the last inning."
Red Mountain managed multiple hits in two innings - both they scored in. The lone RBI for the Mountain Lions went to pitcher Makayla Donahoo with a two-out single in the second.
Wednesday's game was rescheduled from Tuesday night because the lead umpire deemed the field a safety concern with one light burned out on the firstbase side. The schools huddled early Wednesday and opted to reschedue an afternoon start.