Tucson and Catalina Foothills started their respective seasons out strong. The Badgers went 4-2 to take third place at the Red Mountain Lion Country Classic and the Falcons went 4-2 at the Canyon del Oro Dorado Classic but injuries, combined with a deadly schedule, has put the breaks to the Falcon’s fast start.
A 9-inning loss to Cholla was followed by an impressive victory at Pueblo but then the bottom fell out. The Falcons lost 10-0 to Sahuaro last Friday, 11-0 at Cienega on Tuesday and then 11-0 to Tucson on Wednesday. The Falcons went from a respectable 4-2 record to 5-6 in eight days.
Meanwhile, save a 5-0 loss at Sahuaro on Tuesday, the Badgers kept on winning and are now sitting at 7-3 overall and 4-1 in power-ranking games including the victory at Catalina Foothills.
State Player of the Year Nic Conway picked up six strikeouts against Tucson but some timely hitting by the Badgers started to take its toll.
A 2-run shot from freshman first baseman Carlie Scupin in the top of the second got the ball rolling. Sophomore Alyssa Trejo went 3-4 with a triple and two RBI and senior standout Mia Trejo went 3-4 with a double to pace the later innings to pull away for the 11-0 win.
Junior pitcher Taylor Ramirez went the distance for the Badgers and she limited the Falcons to four hits with junior Emma Petersen collecting two of those from the bottom of the order.
Catalina Foothills won the Division III state championship last year with Conway dominating from the circle. She finished the year with 302 strikeouts, an ERA of 1.06 and a 23-6 record. She is already at 77 strikeouts this year but she has given up an uncharacteristic 11 home runs in the process. Part of that is the increased level of competition but starting catcher Lilli Wright graduated causing a shift in the infield with senior Natalie Stevens moving from third base to behind the plate. That move, along with key injuries, had a domino effect on the rest of the infield and outfield.
The Falcons are competing in the 4A Conference this year with state powers Canyon del Oro and Salpointe joining them in the Kino Region.
The Badgers have moved to the 6A Conference with Sunnyside and Rincon/University but they also have the Dorados and Lancers on their schedule along with defending D-II state champion Ironwood Ridge. D-IV state champion Pueblo is also on their schedule.
Both teams will be competing in the Badger Softball Classic next week with Tucson serving as the host team at Cherry Field. The tournament can be a much-needed break for the Falcons and it can also allow both teams to regroup for the playoff run to follow.
Conway committed to Yale in December and Mia Trejo has shifted her commitment from New Mexico State to UNLV.
Badger Softball Classic Schedule
Mar. 15-18: Cherry Field
Wednesday, Mar. 15
Catalina Foothills vs. Sunnyside, 4 p.m.
Marana vs. Desert View, 4 p.m.
Tucson vs. Desert View, 6 p.m.
Marana vs. Empire, 6 p.m.
Thursday, Mar. 16
Buena vs. Marana, Noon
Desert View vs. Rio Rico, Noon
Rio Rico vs. Sunnyside, 2 p.m.
Catalina Foothills vs. Buena, 2 p.m.
Empire vs. Tucson, 4 p.m.
Vista Grande vs. Catalina Foothills, 4 p.m.
Tucson vs. Vista Grande, 6 p.m.
Sunnyside vs. Empire, 6 p.m.
Friday, Mar. 17
Tucson vs. Buena, Noon
Rio Rico vs. Catalina Foothills, Noon
Desert View vs. Empire, 2 p.m.
Vista Grande vs. Buena, 2 p.m.
Marana vs. Rio Rico, 4 p.m.
Sunnyside vs. Vista Grande, 2 p.m.
Saturday, Mar. 18
Bracket Play; 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.