Lexi Coons' performance in Wednesday night's 4A-5A Senior Softball All-Star game didn't begin as an MVP outing. It certainly ended as one.
Two hitters in, the Sahuaro High pitcher yielded a a triple and double and a quick 1-0 deficit. At that point she was done with the loose, fun atmosphere an all-star game brings.
"I knew after those hits I had to be more focused," Coons said.
Indeed. Coons hurled four innings and struck out 10 and delivered her first hit of the season to drive in a run as the 4A-5A Red team edged the Blue team, 3-2, in the first of two Arizona Softball Coaches Association all-star games at Mesquite High School.
Coons worked the first three innings allowing three hits, one run and struck out seven. When her turn to bat in the top of the second came, she delivered a tie-breaking RBI double as part of the Red team's three-run inning. Chaparral's Taylor Canatelli pitched the fourth through sixth innings and gave up a run and four hits in her stint.
Coons was asked to re-enter and pitch the seventh with the 3-2 lead. She allowed a single, but fanned the side to complete her final high school game. She was the winning pitcher and selected Red team MVP.
Coons, who heads to Grand Canyon University this fall to play for the Antelopes and who guided Sahuaro to the 5A semifinals last month, didn't bat this season for the Cougars. She's not used to hitting, even in club ball.
However, she looked the part with a long double to left that scored Seton Catholic's Mari Flores, who reached on a error two batters in front of Coons.
MVP's were named for both teams and the honor for the Blue team went to Mesquite shortstop Ashley Michelena, who played outstanding defense and had two of her team's eight hits, One was the leadoff triple that helped open the scoring. Michelena is headed for Colorado State.
Mesquite's Caoline Chilton reached base three times via an RBI double, hit by pitch and walk. And yet another Mesquite alum, Kaitlynn Carter, added a double. Poston Butte's Megan Clark drove in the Blue team's other run with a fiffh-inning single.St. Mary's Lauren Eamiguel added a hit and pitched four scoreless innings for the Blue.
The only suspense in the nightcap of Wednesday's doubleheader was who would garner the MVP nod for the winning 6A Blue. The 6A Blue un leashed a 15-hit attack and several players had two hits as the game moved to the bottom of the sixth with Blue leading Red, 9-4. The game was that close as the Red team's four runs in the top of the sixth were all unearned.
Hamilton's Bella Loomis settled the question with her final at-bat -- a three-run homer to left-center giving her a 3-for-4 night. Loomis, bound for ASU this fall, singled, tripled and her home run gave her four RBI. She also reached on an error her first at-bat, scored three runs and played several positions during the game apart from her normal shortstop.
A sox-run, second inning started the Blue team to its victory. Five successive hits with two outs plated four of the runs just after a wild pitch and throwin error brought home the first two. Hamilton's Nikki Gonzalez, Loomis and Perry's Chandler Walter drove in runs with a triple, triple and single, respectively.
Walter finished with two hits and two RBI. Also finishing with two hits were Desert Ridge's Leah Molina and Sydnee Broderick, and Perry's Jordyn Spencer.
The winning pitcher was Hamilton's Natalie Montgomery, who allowed one hit in her four innings of work. Montgomery walked six, struck out six and hit a batter, but did not give up a run. The Red team left nine runners on base the first four innings.
The Blue team MVP was Sandra Day O'Connor's Savana Avilla. Avilla reached base three times via a walk, fielder's choice and two-run double in the sixth inning. Avilla will attend Virgina in the fall.