6A softball comes down the home stretch

May 8, 2017 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

It's hard to imagine at this late stage any teams other than Pinnacle and Hamilton will square off  Monday May 15 for the 6A softball championship. It would be a rematch of last year's final, won by Hamilton 3-0.

Top-seed Pinnacle (33-1) is unbeaten in its half of the bracket and continues to overwhelm the opposition with its pitching. The tandem of Marissa Schuld and CC Cook have been even better than they were last year. Schuld is 21-0 with a 0.53 ERA and Cook is 12-1 with a 0.67 ERA. Combined they've thrown 212 innings and fanned 342 batters.

For the year, Pinnacle has allowed less than a run per game - 31 runs in 34 games. The  Pioneers only loss was to Hamilton, 1-0, in the title game of Desert Mountain's Invitational in mid-March. Pinnacle has won 16 games in a row since that defeat and owns a 9-4 win over Hamilton the first week of March. Cook and Schuld blanked Westwood, 3-0, in its opening state game. Schuld has taken down Desert Vista and Perry the last two games.

Pinnacle isn't short on offense. The Pioneers average better than nine runs a game, but that pace has slowed with the tougher competition at state. Schuld is batting .510 with 15 HR and 57 RBI in the clean-up spot. Taylor Fawcett bats second and is hitting .412 with 10 HR and 42 RBI. Every Pinnacle regular is hitting at least .315.

Some may think Hamilton (28-6) is a surprise to be unbeaten to this point as a No. 7 seed. Don't believe it. The Huskies hit a rough patch just after winning the Desert Mountain tournament losing three of  four games to close out March (two to Perry and one to Corona del Sol).

Once the calendar turned to April, Hamilton made sure everyone knew it was the defending champion. The Huskies have won their last 10 games (eight via shutout and seven of those by run-rule). They've beaten Sunnyside, Horizon and Tucson High in its half of the bracket to date. The pitching of Abby Andersen and Madison Seigworth has led in the circle plus the usual offense the Huskies brandish. Taylor Gindlesperger is 9-12 in the playoffs with a home run and seven RBI. Ali Ashner is 7-12 and leadoff hitter Bella Loomis has homered twice. Loomis and Gindlesperger lead Hamilton with nine HR each.

The four teams left competing with Pinnacle and Hamilton in the double elmination tournament are Desert Vista, Perry, Tucson and Horizon.

Desert Vista and Perry meet Tuesday May 9 in an elimination game and for the chance to play Pinnacle twice if they want to reach the championship game. Ditto Horizon and Tucson to see Hamilton again.

Desert Vista and Perry have adequate pitching, but their strength is hitting. Desert Vista relies on pitchers Kendall Schwartz and Jackie Traughber; Perry saddles up with consistent Saige Stutz. 

Swinging hot bats in the playoffs so far for Desert Vista are Kaylee Dietrich (6-10), Kiara Kennedy (5-10) and Tia Craig (5-9).

Perry has been a terrific offensive team this year. The Pumas offense is led by Piper Lujan (5-10, 4 RBI) Chloe Krason (4-7) and Sydnee Smith (5 RBI and 3-9) in postseason.

Trying to survive and get another shot at Hamilton are Tucson and Horizon. Horizon gave Hamilton a scare for a couple innings, but then the Huskies bats heated up in an eventual run-rule win. Pitcher Morgan Leinstock has been the focal point of Horizon's advancement to this point, shutting down Sandra Day O'Connor and Desert Ridge to still be alive. Leinstock and Makenna Woods have been the best hitters for Horizon in postseason. Leinstock is 6 for 9 and Woods 5 for 10.

Tucson has thrived on the power game. The Badgers have blasted 44 home runs as team, led by Mia Trejo (11 HR) and Carlie Scupin (13 HR). Mia Trejo and Alyssa Trejo are hitting .400 or better in the playoffs.