By Raymundo Frasquillo
The Joseph Garcia-coached Morenci softball team run-ruled Pima 12-2 during a home region contest March 14, following a consolation bracket triumph during the three-day Glendale Apollo ‘Cool Nights’ tourney, which concluded March 11.
Morenci (10-4-1 overall, 2-1 region) completed its second tourney as the consolation winners with a 10-5 Silver Bracket win over the 5A Phoenix Sunnyslope Vikings. The Wildcats topped the 4A Yuma Criminals 10-1 in five innings March 10, edged the 4A Peoria Panthers 6-5 in five innings and slipped past the 5A Phoenix Goldwater Bulldogs 7-6 in overtime March 11 en route to the consolation final.
In pool play, Morenci downed the 5A Glendale Cardinals 6-2 and fell 1-12 to the 5A Glendale Ironwood Eagles on March 9, and shutout Yuma, 10-0, March 10.
The Wildcats succumbed by a run, 2-3, to the Bobcats in Benson for their initial region loss March 7.
Morenci opened the season with an 18-1 region home win over Tombstone on Feb. 25, and went 3-2-1 during the Safford tourney March 3-4. The Wildcats defeated the Miami Vandals 7-1, fell 2-4 to the Snowflake Lobos, edged Tucson Amphitheater 4-3, topped the Lakeside Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets 10-1, were blanked 0-4 by the host Bulldogs, and tied the Eagar Round Valley Elks 7-7.
Garcia is the fourth head coach for Morenci in 16 seasons, following James Hollestelle’s four years (2013-16), Christopher Aguallo’s eight (2005-2012), and Jaclyn Nabor’s three (2002-04). Hollestelle’s charges went 89-31-1 overall and 5-4 in the state playoffs, Aguallo ended 113-114 and 6-8, and Nabor posted a third season mark of 8-15-1. The 2016 version reached the state semifinals before bowing out with a one-run loss.
Morenci 12 Pima 2
Junior infielder Destiny Apodaca singled on a two-out, full-count pitch and was driven in by senior pitcher Sabyn Martinez to score the Wildcats’ 12th run, ending the game on the 10-run rule.
The Wildcats led 11-1 after four innings, but Pima freshman Melody Nevins singled on in the fifth and scored the Roughriders’ second run on a throwing error. The next three batters recorded outs and Morenci’s two-outs, bases-loaded fly out forced another inning of play.
Pima was retired in order as freshman reliever Angel Ontiveros stepped in the circle with two outs. She delivered a single pitch yielding a deep fly that was caught for the third out.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 5-0 advantage after a complete inning, sending 11 batters to the plate and leaving the bases loaded.
Pima countered with a run singled in by freshman pitcher Kylee Carbajal and the Wildcats added a pair of runs in each of the next three innings for a 10-run advantage.
Morenci batted .469 (15-32), fielded.893 (25-28), made three errors and stranding 10 runners while Pima fielded .828 (24-29), left four base runners on, and committed five errors.
Junior Alexa Gregory batted 1.000 (2-2, RBI), senior Sabyn Martinez (double, RBI) and junior Shaunee Seballos (2 RBIs) both .750 (3-4), seniors Shelby Aguallo and Krystyna Chavarria (RBI) both .667 (2-3), Apodaca .500 (2-4, double) and junior Aubrey Castillo 0-2 (2 RBIs).
In the circle, Martinez struck out 10 and yielded five hits while facing 23 batters during 5 2/3 innings.
Pima batted .208 (5-24) with Carbajal going 2-3 (.667, double, RBI), Nevins 1-2 (.500) and both junior Corin Salyer and senior Maria Vega 1-3 (.333).
Carbajal yielded 15 hits, four walks, and beaned two while facing 39 batters.
Morenci 10 Sunnyslope 5
Morenci turned a 3-run, two-innings deficit into a 7-run advantage, 10-3, after five innings and limited the Vikings to an additional two runs in the bottom of the sixth to account for all the scoring.
The Wildcats trailed by three as number eight batter Castillo singled on and scored on an error that let sophomore Heather Lee reach first; a Seballos’ fielder’s choice sent Castillo home, Apodaca singled in Lee and a Martinez sacrifice fly allowed Seballos to cross home plate, knotting the score 3-3.
Morenci doubled the score in the fourth as the entire order went up and added four more runs in the fifth, with each of the nine batters taking another turn again. Six of the final seven batters recorded outs during the sixth and seventh.
In the fourth, Aguallo walked on four straight balls; a Gregory fielder’s choice forced Aguallo out, Castillo singled, Lee walked, Seballos walked to drive in Gregory, an Apodaca fielder’s choice forced Castillo out and a Martinez walk drove in Seballos in what proved to be the deciding run. An error allowed Chavarria to reach first with two outs and senior Caitlynn Blair’s fly out left the bases loaded.
The Vikings scored a run with six batters in the first, two in the second with seven batters, went three up and three down in the third and sent four up in both the fourth and fifth, stranding a runner in each. Sunnyside went three up and three down, all strikeouts, in the seventh.
Morenci batted .218 (7-32), fielded .867 (26-30), made four errors and left eight base runners on while Sunnyslope batted .303 (10-33), fielded .833 (30-36), plus had six errors and nine stranded runners.
Aguallo batted .667 (2-3), Castillo .500 (2-4), Martinez .333 (1-3), Apodaca .200 (1-5, RBI), and Seballos 0-3 (3 RBIs).
Martinez struck out seven, walked one, beaned one, and allowed 10 hits while facing 30 batters during seven innings.
For the Vikings, Shaye Bowden (3-3), Sidney Rand (2-2, RBI), and Sarah Hubbard (1-1) each batted 1.000, Riley Chaisson .667 (2-3), and Macy Zimmerman .500 (2-4, RBI).
Katie Desmond struck out two, walked five and allowed six hits and while facing 25 batters during 4 1/3 innings. Reliever Elena Videla struck out one, walked one and gave up a hit while facing 14 batters during 2 2/3 innings.
Morenci 7 Goldwater 6
Due to time constraints, a 6-6 deadlock after six innings was decided by the meet tie-breaking rule. Each team had the last batter out, begin at second base. Since both teams scored once, the last two out began at second and third for another extra scoring opportunity.
Morenci had Chavarria at second and Martinez at third. Blair flied out to the short stop, Aguallo grounded to second and was thrown out at first with Martinez scoring, and Castillo grounded to third, holding Chavarria there, and was thrown out at first to send the Wildcats on defense.
Goldwater loaded the bases on a bobbled third strike, the next batter flied out to the pitcher and a double play resulted as the runner at third was thrown out, and the last batter struck out.
Morenci took a 2-0 initial-bat lead, extended it to 5-1 after two innings, and the Bulldogs dispatched a 2-out, 2-2 pitch for a home run in the first and added two runs in both the third and fourth to tie at 5-5.
The Wildcats batted .258 (8-31), committed five errors, and left six runners on compared to .171 (6-35), six stranded runners, and two errors for the Bulldogs.
Martinez batted .750 (3-4, RBI), Seballos .667 (2-3, double, RBI), Gregory .333 (1-3), and Aguallo .250 (1-4, 3 RBIs).
In the circle, Martinez struck out 10, allowed six hits, and walked one while facing 37 batters.
Goldwater senior Amanda Gerhart (double, RBI), freshman Krystin Kang, sophomore Julianne Malis (home run, RBI), and senior Miriam Tapia each batted .250 (1-4), freshman Keaghan Arnold .333 (1-3, RBI), and freshman Kellie Case .200 (1-5).
Malis struck out nine, yielded eight hits, and walked three while facing 37 batters.
Morenci 6 Peoria 5
Trailing by a run after four innings, Morenci defused a Panthers’ one-out scoring threat with a pair of strikeouts in the top of the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth, Martinez drew a walk, Chavarria was beaned, Aguallo reached first on a one-out error and Martinez came in to tie the score, and Gregory singled in Chavarria, the game-winning run.
A Martinez 3-run home run gave Morenci a 3-1 lead in the first inning, the advantage was 4-3 after two, and the Panthers went ahead with two in the fourth.
The Wildcats batted .263 (5-19), left six runners on, and made three errors verses .190 (4-21), five stranded runners, verses .238 (5-21), five stranded runners, four errors for the panthers.
Seballos (3-3, double), Martinez (2-2, sac, 3 RBIs), and Jorden Seballos (1-1, RBI) each batted 1.000.
Martinez struck out nine, scattered four hits, walked two, and beaned two while facing 25 batters during five innings.
Olibarraj batted .667 (2-3, RBI), Biaudine .500 (1-2), and Herrera .333 (1-3, double, RBI) for the Panthers.
Herrera struck out three, gave up five hits, walked four, and beaned one while facing 25 batters during 4 1/3 innings.
Morenci 10 Yuma 1
The Wildcats enjoyed a 4-0 advantage before the first out and led by six as the entire order stepped to the plate during their initial at bat. A one-out Martinez triple raise the margin to nine in the second and an Aguallo sacrifice fly gave the Wildcats a 10-0 advantage.
A total of seven batters took a swing in the first two innings for Yuma, resulting in a strikeout, a walk, four ground outs and a fly out before a one-out Mandi Padilla single yielded the Criminals only run. The sophomore advanced to second and third on errors and scored on a passed ball. Four of the next 10 batters did not advance past third base in the final 2 2/3 innings.
Morenci batted .478 (11-23), left four runners on, made four errors compared to .188 (3-16), three stranded runners, and three errors for Yuma.
Castillo (2-2, double, triple, 4 RBIs), Shaunee Seballos (2-2, triple), senior Kylee Munoz (1-1), and Ontiveros (1-1) each batted 1.000, Martinez .667 (2-3, 2 RBIs), Apodaca (RBI) and Chavarria both .500 (1-2), and Gregory .333 (1-3, triple, RBI).
Martinez pitched a one-hitter, struck out three, and walked one while facing 13 batters during 3 2/3 innings. Reliever Munoz yielded two hits while facing six batters during 1 1/3 innings.
Senior Vanessa Lopez batted 1.000 (1-1), and both senior Vanessa Perez and Padilla .500 (1-2).
Freshman Sophia Gann gave up 11 hits, struck out three, and walked one while facing 26 batters in four innings.
Morenci 10 Yuma 0
Martinez sat the Criminals down in order through the first two innings of the early morning contest, with half of the outs being K’s, limited Yuma to four batters in the next two innings, and only one runner reached second base. She threw a one-hit shutout, walked two, and struck out five while facing 14 batters in four innings.
Offensively, the Wildcats sent 10 batters up and jumped out to a 6-0 advantage before the third out was recorded in their initial at bat. Lead-off hitter Seballos bunted on, Martinez dispatched a one-out first-pitch for a home run, Chavarria tagged a 2-1 pitch for a home run, Castillo selected her first-pitch for a single, Aguallo drilled a 2-1 pitch for a home run, Gregory walked, Blair reached first on an error, and a Jorden Seballos sacrifice fly drove in Gregory. The 10th batter lined to short for the third out.
Morenci added two more runs in the second with six batters, and two in the fourth with four batters before the game was halted on the 10-run rule.
The Wildcats batted .526 (10-19), had a .941 (16-17) fielding average, left four runners on, and committed a lone error as the Criminals batted.083 (1-12), fielded .824 (14-17), stranded two runners, and made three errors.
Chavarria (2-2, home run, 2 RBIs), Martinez (1-1, home run, 2 RBIs), Ontiveros (1-1, RBI), sophomore Payton Damron (1-1, RBI), and Jorden Seballos each batted 1.000, Shaunee Seballos, Castillo, and Aguallo (home run, RBI) each .500 (1-2), and Apodaca .333 (1-3).
Junior Kayla Linares batted 1.000 (1-1) with a third-inning double for the Criminals.
Morenci 1 Ironwood 12
The Wildcats were retired in order during the first three innings and limited to a lone run, singled in with two outs by Chavarria from a doubled Apodaca in the fourth.
Ironwood scored four first-inning runs on errors, with two reaching first on errors, one on a single and the other on a walk; two in the second, one on a home run and the other reaching first on an error and scoring on an error; four in the third, two reaching first on fielder’s choices, one on a single and the other on an error with two scoring on errors and two singled in; and two in the fifth, both singled on with one scoring on an error and the other on a ground out.
Morenci batted .167 (3-18), fielded .667 (20-30), left two runners on, and committed 10 errors while the Eagles batted .273 (9-33), fielded 1.000 (18-18), stranded eight runners, and committed no errors during the late night contest.
Gregory batted 1.000 (1-1), and Apodaca (double) and Chavarria (RBI) both .500 (1-2).
Martinez gave up nine hits, struck out two and walked two while facing 35 batters during five innings.
For the Eagles, Bibiana Acosta (home run, RBI), Maria Sharkey, and Macie Timmons (2 RBIs) each .500 (2-4), Marrisa Whitney .250 (1-4), and Madison Gomez and Sara Norton (RBI) both .333 (1-3).
Norton struck out seven and scattered three hits while facing 18 batters during five innings.
Morenci 6 Glendale 2
Morenci erased a one-run deficit with three runs during their initial plate appearance, using three doubles to drive them in. Lead-off batter Shaunee Seballos was walked and driven in by Martinez, Aguallo doubled in Martinez with two outs, and Blair doubled in Aguallo. The bases had a beaned Heather Lee, Blair, and a walked Gregory as the third out was recorded, but the entire batting order had stepped to the plate.
The Wildcats would not need to score again as they held the Cardinals to one more run in the fourth, reaching first on an error and scoring on a ground out. The initial run in the first singled on and scored on a passed ball.
However, Morenci doubled its score, crossing the plate once during the second, third, and fourth innings.
Morenci batted .294 (5-17), fielded .864 (19-22), left six runners on, and made three errors while Glendale batted .200 (4-20), fielded .941 (16-17), stranded three runners, and made one error.
Blair batted 1.000 (1-1, double, RBI), Martinez .667 (2-3, double, triple, 2 RBIs), Aguallo (double) and Lee both .500 (1-2, RBI), and Seballos 0-2 (RBI).
Martinez struck out seven and yielded four hits while facing 20 batters during five innings.
Joanna Palmer, Kassidy Ulen (double), and Isabella Villasenor each batted .500 (1-2), Makayla Escobedo .333 (1-3), and Adreena Duran 0-2 (RBI).
Thereza Felix struck out six, allowed five hits, walked two and beaned four while facing 24 batters during four innings.
Morenci 2 Benson 3
The deciding run took four batters to score with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. A walked sophomore Abby Workman followed by a senior Cori Jackson’s double put both in scoring position. The next two batters grounded to third, but Workman reached home plate safely on the latter to end the game.
Morenci scored right out of the gate, crossing the plate with its initial two batters. Seballos singled on, Apodaca tripled her in, and a Martinez ground out allowed Apodaca to score. A two-out Lee single, coupled with a beaned Aguallo and a walked Gregory loaded the bases for Blair. She lined to third to end the threat.
The Wildcats went three up and three down during the second, third, and fourth innings. Apodaca singled on with two outs in the fifth and Martinez reached first on an error, but the next batter flied out for the third of four plate trips. The sixth opened with Lee’s bunt single and an Aguallo fielder’s choice bunt forced her out at second. The next two batters recorded outs. A one-out Seballos’ single plus a two-out Martinez walk set up another scoring opportunity in the seventh, however, a fly out resulted with the ensuing batter to douse the flame.
Benson tied the score on its bat debut, singling on the first and third batters with one out, loading the bases on a fielder’s choice, and having the fifth batter double them in. A pair of fly outs stranded two runners. The Bobcats left runners in each of the next five innings before breaking the tie in the seventh. Ensuing batters dampened scoring opportunities by recording outs, one in the second with two outs, two in the third with one out, one in the fourth with one out, two in the fifth with two outs, and two in the sixth with one out.
Morenci batted .214 (6-28), fielded .938 (30-32), left eight runners on, and committed two errors while Benson batted .313 (10-32), fielded .966 (28-29), stranded 11 runners, and made one error.
Lee batted .667 (2-3), Seballos and Apodaca (triple, RBI) both .500 (2-4), and Martinez 0-3 (RBI).
In the circle, Martinez allowed 10 hits, walked two, struck out one while facing 34 batters during 6 2/3 innings.
Senior Cori Jackson batted .750 (3-4, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs), senior Ashleigh Davis .667 (2-3), junior Hope Adams .500 (2-4, double), sophomore Katie Sherman .333 (1-3, RBI), and junior Emmarae Wilson .250 (1-4).
Sherman struck out five, gave up six hits, walked two and beaned one while facing 31 batters in seven innings.