It’s been a roller coaster season all around but Sahuaro has taken over the top spot in Southern Arizona thanks to a 5-2 win over Ironwood Ridge on Thursday. The Cougars started the day ranked No. 1 in 5A action according to the AIA/MaxPreps rankings, thanks to an 8-6 win at No. 2 Cienega on Tuesday, but the team also has big losses to Canyon del Oro, Marana and Desert View on their record.
A big win over 6A No. 2 Tucson, combined with the win over Cienega and No. 5 Ironwood Ridge, has given the Cougars the nod this week. Cienega rebounded by beating 4A No. 1 Canyon del Oro on Thursday, which will also help the power points gained by the Cougars.
The Nighthawks remain in the top five as the season shifts to region play.
Lexy Coons (11-2) got the start for Sahuaro and Karagan Knowles (0-1) took the circle for Ironwood Ridge. It was the first start for the transfer from Salpointe.
The Nighthawks had two runners on in the top of the first but Coons picked up back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the jam and she went on to fan the side in the second. Meanwhile, Sahuaro loaded the bases in the bottom of the second with two outs but Knowles ended that threat with a strikeout.
Jaiden Reid hit a two-out double to get things going for the Nighthawks in the top of the third and Isabel Pacho followed with a walk but Coons induced a pop fly to hold Ironwood Ridge back.
Hailey Ward led off the bottom half of the inning with a walk and then Ashley Bradford found a hole on the right side when the Nighthawk defense shifted for an expected bunt attempt. The play opened the door for the Cougars and Jasmin Lopez took advantage with a single to center to score two runs.
Bella Goerke followed with a single and Danielle Jamieson singled in two more runs to give the Cougars a 4-0 lead. Bradford came up with an RBI triple in the fourth to give Sahuaro a 5-0 lead.
Coons picked up three more strikeouts in the fourth and she stopped the Nighthawks in the fifth but Annika Baez knocked in a run in the sixth to cut the lead to 5-1. Frankie Lucio took the ball for Ironwood Ridge in the fourth and Shelby Thompson took over in the sixth and the duo limited the Cougars to two hits down the stretch.
Ironwood Ridge worked the bases full in the top of the seventh with two outs thanks to an RBI double from Reid, a walk issued to Pacho and a hit-by-pitch awarded to Baez but Coons got another pop fly to end the game, 5-2.
Bradford went 2-for-4 for Sahuaro with an RBI triple, Jamieson went 2-3 with two RBI and Brianna Jackson had a triple. Coons finished with 10 strikeouts, giving the senior 122 strikeouts in only 95 innings of work.
Reid led Ironwood Ridge by going 3-4 with two doubles. Baez and Morgan Reidhead had the only other hits for the Nighthawks.
Ironwood Ridge will host No. 11 Mountain View on Monday, Apr. 3 and No. 21 Poston Butte will travel to Sahuaro on the same night.