No. 9 Mountain Pointe is working on breaking into the top-eight among 6A schools in the power rankings as the season winds down to its final two weeks.
The Pride continued that pursuit staging a gradual rally providing them a 9-3 win Monday afternoon over Westwood at Westwood.
Mountain Pointe under first-year coach Sammi Hernreich, owns a sparking 18-5 overall record and is 9-4 in power-ranking contests. Mountain Pointe stumbled the middle of last week with two losses to Central Region-leader Desert Ridge, but has won its last two games. The top eight teams in the power-rankings earn a berth at state and guaranteed to compete in the 16-team, double-elimination state tournament that begins April 29.
Westwood, in its second year under Wayne Hill, dropped to 17-10 overall and 7-6 in power-ranking games. Westwood was No. 24 in the power rankings on Monday and recovering from a 14-0 loss to Red Mountain that saw the Warriors leave 17 runners on base. Westwood needs to finish in the low 20s, perhaps as low as 24, come season's end to qualify for state tourney play-in game. Little mistakes proved costly for Westwood, which led 2-0 early thanks to RBI from Stacia Seeton and Elishia Burbank. It played Mountain Pointe to a 2-2 deadlock heading to the fifth inning when miscues took a toll.
Mountain Pointe scored three times in the fifth inning on two hits to snap the tie. Ilyianna Vacaneri's second of three hits drove in the run to make it 3-2. Another runner reached base on a fielder's choice, where indecision led to no out being recorded (the same thing happened on a bunt in the third when Mountain Pointe scored twice to tie). A passed ball plated Vacaneri and an error with two outs on a routine grounder to second gave the Pride a 5-2 advantage.
Westwood was presented a huge opportunity to get back in its half of the inning as two errors and a single loaded the bases with one out against winning pitcher Danielle Farinas. Farinas induced a 6-2-3 double-play ball to escape any damage.
The game got away completely from Westwood in the sixth. Pitcher Kelsey Ayre retired the first two hitters. A double - the fourth hit and third double of the day for leadoff hitter Veronica Chavez -- followed. Another error an an easy bouncer to second kept the inning alive. Vacaneri then doubled in two runs and Farinas scored Vacaneri with her first hit of the game to cap the inning with an 8-2 lead.
Ayre allowed 12 hits, all the runs (five earned), did not issue a walk and struck out seven. Farinas went the distance scatteing eight hits. She allowed one run over the final six innings, a two-out, solo homer to Burbank in the bottom of the seventh.
Mountain Pointe has five games left -- Gilbert and two each with region rivals Corona del Sol and Desert Vista. Corona is No.10 and Desert Vista No. 11, respectively, in the power rankings.