Oree Foster
Staff Writer, AZPreps365.com

Softball: St. Michael Lady Cardinals garner Joseph City Tournament title

March 10, 2019 by Oree Foster, AZPreps365

Utilizing a strong pitching performance from sophomore righthander Maya Ross and freshman southpaw Gabriella Simpson, the St. Michael Lady Cardinals rose to the occasion to capture the Joseph City Softball Tournament title this past Saturday.

Enroute to earning the tournament championship, St. Michael finished 2-wins and 1-loss in Pool Play. The Lady Cardinals completed Bracket Play with an undefeated 3-0 record.


St. Michael 9, Lee Williams 4

After losing to Class 4A Lee Williams High School Volunteers, 9-8, in the third game of Pool Play, a more determined St. Michael team was ready for a rematch.

Down 4-2, leading into the seventh inning, St. Michaels' bats came alive. The Lady Cardinals crossed the plate seven times during the seventh inning to produce a 9-4 championship victory.

St. Michael head coach Karen Tom said the Lady Cardinals were excited and determined to play in the tournament championship game.

"They (St. Michael) wanted to get the win back," Tom said. "Now that we had seen their defense, we knew where we could hit. We, however, didn't see their pitcher, Kenzie Peterson. So for four innings, we scored one run and our batters couldn't connect. It was a frustraing six innings."

During the seventh inning, things changed for the Lady Cardinals. Sunshine Burnside smacked a two-run double to begin the rally. Lady Cardinal teammates followed with four singles. Lee Williams pitcher Kenzie Peterson began to tire as she threw wild pitches and balls. Peterson's wild pitches allowed St. Michael to score runs.

"Overall, it was nail biter," Tom said. "We couldn't have asked for a better outcome. I have a young team, but they are experienced players. Everyone has contributed to the talent of these young ladies have. We're excited to get our season going."

Lee Williams took a 2-1 lead at the end of the first inning. The Volunteers extended its lead to 3-1 in the third frame. Both teams each tallied one run apiece in the sixth inning. This set up the seventh inning rally by St. Michael.

The Lady Cardinals' top batters were Sunshine Burnside, who had a two-run two-bagger. Maya Ross, Aurianna Quintana, Kalynn Smith, Gabriella Simpson and Amaya Joe all contributed hits at the plate for the Lady Cardinals.

Maya Ross was St. Michaels' starting pitcher. Ross threw three innings, striking out three batters. Gabriella Simpson was summoned to the pitching circle in relief. Simpson threw four innings, fanning six batters.

Kenzie Peterson was the losing pitcher. Perterson struckout nine batters.

Bracket Play


St. Michael 10, Joseph City 0

St. Michael lefthanded hurler Gabriella Simpson held Joseph City scoreless in five inning, striking out 10 batters.

Top batter for St. Michael was Simpson, who helped herself by cracking a grand slam out of the park in the fifth inning.

Adding to the Lady Cardinals' offensive assault was Maya Ross, who slammed a triple in the first inning and a two-bagger in the fourth stanza.

St. Michael scored one run in the first inning, followed by three runs in the second inning, two runs in the fourth inning and four runs in the fifth frame.

Bracket Play

First Round

St. Michael 15, Hopi 1

St. Michael hurler Maya Ross stifled Hopi with eight strikeouts and allowing one run in s shortened five inning game. Hopi tallied its lone run off Ross in the third inning.

St. Michael jumped on Hopi starting pitcher Shanqua Campus for five runs in the firsr inning. The Lady Cardinals added three runs in the second inning, six runs in the third frame and one run in the fourth stanza.

The Lady Cardinals' top batters were Nayauna Zah (a double in the fourth inning), Natalia Goldtooth (one double in third inning), Gabriella Smith (two triples in the first and third innings), Sunshine Burnside (one double in the third inning); and Jenna Ross ( one double in the third inning).

"The weather was horrible," Tom noted. "With wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour. But we finished."

Pool Play

Lee Williams 9, St. Michael 8

St. Michael led 8-6 leading into the seventhiing, when Lee Willaims crossed the plate three runs in the seventh inning to post a 9-8 victory in the final game of Pool Play.

Tom said entering the game, the Lady Cardinals were nervous because Lee Williams is a 4A school.

"Pitching-wise, I thought we were pretty evenly matched," Tom stated. "The told my team to go out there and have fun. Play hard, but have fun, and stay on top of their defense and keep their spirits up. And they did."

Tom said the Lady Cardinals played hard, kept the ball in front of themselves and connected with the ball.

"We were proud of have given the Volunteers a good game," Tom explained. "We lost by one run, but that didn't matter. It gave us a good gauge as to where we stand with other top notched programs."

St. Michael jumped on Lee Williams' starting pitcher Ashley Sahawneh for three runs during the initial three innings. Lee Williams tied the game 4-4 at the end of the fifth inning.

The Lady Cardinals held a 7-6 lead at the end of the sixth inning. St. Michael extended its lead to 8-6, before Lee Williams scored three runs in the bottom half of the seventh inning for the win.

Sunshine Burnside cracked a pair of doubles, one in the first inning and a two-bagger in the fifth inning for the Lady Cardinals. Maya Ross slammed s triple in the third inning for St. Michael.

Gabriella Simpson suffered the loss. Simpson struckout four batters. Sahawneh was the winning pitcher. Sahawneh fanned six batters.

Pool Play

St. Michael 18, Greyhills Academy 1

Led by Maya Ross' pitching and home runs by Sunshine Burnside and Aurianna Quintana, St. Michael posted an 18-1 victory over Greyhills Academy.

St. Michael took a 14-0 lead at the end of the third inning. Greyhills Academy scored its lone run in the top half of the fourth inning. The Lady Cardinals added a pair of runs at the end of the fourth inning for a 16-1 lead. The Lady Cardinals tallied two runs in the fifth inning.

Maya Ross struckout seven batters for the win. J. Farrell suffered the loss. She fanned five batters.

"The girls were ready and enjoyed the hits they produced," Tom stated.

Pool Play

St. Michael 11, Chinle 6

St. Michael turned in a strong third inning, crossing the plate 11 times, as the Lady Cardinals chalked up an victory.

Tom said when the game began, she knew the Lady Cardinals were in for a battle against 3A Chinle.

"When we started the game, I knew we were going to have a good battle," Tom said. "And we did. We were pretty even with defense."

After a scoreless two innings by both teams, St. Michael rallied for 11 runs in the third inning.

During the rally, Aurianna Quintaina, Sunshine Burnside, Gabriella Simpson and Kalani Wilson, all recorded a double.

"We scored 11 runs that (third) inning and didn't score again for the remainder of the game," Tom said. "In the same third inning, Chinle scored three runs and continued to score three more times throughout the game."

Tom continued, "It was a great introduction to the Joseph City Tournament. It marked the beginning of our softball season. This win was exciting because Chinle is a great program. It definitely boosted our spirits and got us ready for our next game, later that day."