Softball: Mesquite rebounds from region loss, moves on to state

April 26, 2017 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Mesquite needed one win last week over rival Campo Verde to nail down a region title. 

"It was ours to lose and we lost it," Mesquite coach Gloria Hernandez said.

No. 15 seed Mesquite put that disappointment behind it Wednesday, shining in all areas with a 9-1 victory over No. 18 Willow Canyon in a 5A softball play-in game at Mesquite.

Mesquite (18-12) waits for Thursday afternoon to see who it matches up with in the first round of state. Its opponent will be revealed on the AZPreps365 bracket show at 2:30 p.m. Willow Canyon closed its season (13-10). 

Senior pitcher Taylor Cullen scattered six hits in going the distance for Mesquite. Cullen spotted Willow Canyon a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but her team evened it in the bottom of the first and went ahead for good after two, 2-1. Mesquite broke the game open scoring seven runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Willow Canyon committed its three errors for the dayin those two innings.

"Taylor battles every time out," Hernandez said. "She knows and our team knows she's not going to blow away 10 hitters a game. She knows the defense needs to help. Most of the time they do. They played great today."

Cullen struck out one and walked three. She was backed by error-less play, two double plays, including a great snag of a sinking line drive by right fielder Andrea Santillan in the top of the fifth. It saved a hit, perhaps extra bases, and ended up a double play. Shortstop Ashley Michelena and second baseman Lala Sotelo combined for six assists.

Michelena also stood out at the plate from her leadoff spot. She reached base in all four plate appearances (two hits and two walks), scored three times and drove in the go-ahead run in the second with a triple. Right behind her in the order was Caroline Chilton, who helped set the table with three hits and scored twice.

"Ashley sets the tone for us," Hernandez said. "When the rest of the team sees her come out with good at-bats it gives them the confidence to do the same."

Cleanup hitter Kaitlynn Carter and No. 5 hitter Sotelo combined for five RBI -- Carter with a sacrifice fly and two-run single and Sotelo with a sac fly and single.

Kaleigh Holland was the only Willow Canyon hitter with two hits and drove in her team's lone run with a double.