Hamilton makes most of breaks, nips Desert Mountain softball

March 14, 2011 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Hamilton has never been a world beater in softball like it has in football and baseball. Not even close. But the 2011 softball team is making its presence known.

Hamilton took advantage of physical and mental errors by Desert Mountain and got the unintentional help of an umpire Monday in edging the previously unbeaten Wolves, 5-4, in pool play at the Marcos de Niza-Corona del Sol Invitational at Marcos de Niza.

"In don't think many people thought we would be very competitive this year," first-year head coach Keith Householder, previously an assistant at Seton Catholic, said. "Today we took advantage when opportunities came our way. That last play helped, no doubt."

Householder's reference was to Desert Mountain's seventh-inning bid to stage a comeback.

The Wolves, down 5-4, loaded the bases with one out and had cleanup hitter Ashley Palmer at bat. Palmer, who ripped a first-inning homer, hit a sharp, one-hopper to third. The throw home secured the force out and figured to leave the bases loaded again. On the play Desert Mountain's Maddie Francis, the baserunner at second, collided with the base umpire halfway to third. The collision left her sprawling on the ground. The Huskies got the ball to their shortstop who applied a light tag to complete the unorthodox, game-ending double play.

"I've been coaching for 30 years and I don't think I've ever seen that," Desert Mountain coach Rick Sharp said. "At least if I have, it wasn't at a crucial stage of the game like this one."

While the final out was unlucky for Desert Mountain, its defense opened the door to Hamilton scoring most of its runs. The Wolves (7-1) led 2-0 in the first inning getting a triple from Kasey McCravey, a passed ball and then Palmer's solo homer to right.

That lead held up until the third when a misplay of fly ball to left and an infield error led to three runs (two unearned).

Desert Mountain gave up two more runs in the fourth using a hit by pitch and bunt single -- nothing else -- to score twice. On the bunt single by No. 2 hitter Bianca Vallejo (3 of Hamilton's five hits on the day), Francis fielded the ball after it died i fair territory. Sam Reynolds, who was on base on the hit by pitch, raced for third. Francis made a throw to third that was accurate but noone covered or tried to catch the ball. It rolled to the fence and Reynolds and Vallejo both scored.

"Worst case we should have been up 4-1," Sharp said. "We made huge mistakes. You might get away with making one in a game like this, but not three."

Abie Kohler went the distance for Hamilton (7-3), allowing six hits, walking one and striking out eight.

Hamilton, Casa Grande and Desert Mountain head into Tuesday's games with 3-1 records in pool play. The Huskies can earn a berth in the tournament title game on Wednesday at Marcos de Niza if they defeat Tempe Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Marcos.

The top teams in the pool when the tournament began figured to be Desert Mountain and Xavier. Xavier was 2-0 heading into Monday's games but lost twice -- 1-0 to Casa Grande and 5-4 to Desert Mountain. Hamilton, which lost to Xavier on Saturday, has wins over Casa Grande, Marcos de Niza and Desert Mountain.