Sandra Day O'Connor claims 6A state title with 6-4 win over top-ranked Pinnacle
May 14, 2019 by Stephen Perez, Arizona State University
Sandra Day O’Connor head coach Melissa Hobson let her 2015 state championship team deliver the pre-game message via video recording before Monday night’s state championship 6A title game.
That message was simple - be in the moment and leave it all out on the field tonight.
That is exactly what they did as No. 7 Sandra Day O’Connor defeated No. 1 Pinnacle 6-4 to win the title at ASU's Farrington Softball Stadium.
The Eagles got off to a hot start scoring four runs in the top of the first inning on three hits, two of those runs coming off two defensive errors on the same play by the Pioneers.
“When you put pressure on the defense and they make a few errors, it's awesome because they have to perform,” Hobson said. “It's something that we have talked as a team wanting to continue to put pressure on defenses.”
In the bottom of the third, Pinnacle got a small rally going loading the bases through two walks and an error but the Eagles wiggled out of the jam giving up only one run.The third inning would not be the only close call for the Eagles, three different times they were able to escape bases-loaded situations with limited damage.
Despite the tough jams, junior pitcher Danielle Wilson was able to maintain her composure and go the distance to help lead her team to the victory.
Hobson said that Wilson stuck to her gameplan and was able to keep her cool in the hard times.
“Each inning I just made sure she knew what we were doing,” she said. “All season long she does what she does, [and] that is groundballs and flyballs. She's not trying to do anything more.”
Wilson said her team scoring four runs before she stepped foot on the mound gave her the confidence boost she needed despite the tough situations.
“Sometimes you really need that hype up and you really need that energy and know your team is there for you,” she said.
Her confidence never faded, although stressed at times, as she never once lost sight of the ultimate goal.
“When I get put in pressure situations I just try to relax and try to think about what I do next and not think about what I don't want to happen,” she said. “I had the confidence that I could get through it and I did.”
Pinnacle was able to put a second run on the board when a sacrifice fly by Grace Rudolph in the fifth inning cut the deficit to 4-2.
However, errors hurt the Pioneers yet again in the top of the sixth inning, allowing two runners to score and increase the Eagles lead to 6-2.
The Pioneers' five errors were uncharacteristic of a team who had only committed 40 errors all season to that point.
Pinnacle was able to grab a pair of runs in the sixth and seventh innings, but a pop out to the shortstop ended the comeback attempt and the Eagles grabbed their first state softball title since 2015.
After the game, the message from Hobson was short and sweet.
“Just great job, so proud of them,” she said. “They are fantastic.”