It took a 5th inning 3-run rally in Florence on Wednesday for the Safford Bulldog softball team to make the 3A State Championship Tournament. The Lady Bulldogs finished the season as the #18 seed and had to travel to #15 Florence in the “play-in” round. Safford trailed 3-1 heading into the 5th inning but rallied in the top half of the inning to push across 3 runs and take a 4-3 lead that they would hold on to for the win.
With the “play-in” round complete the AIA recalculates the seeding with the 8 winners and combines them with the top 8 teams. Safford landed at the 15th out of 16 teams. They will take on the #2 Lady Dust Devils from River Valley High School on Saturday, April 27th at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix. First pitch is scheduled for 1pm and can be heard live on KATO 1230 AM or online by clicking here.
River Valley finished the regular season 21-6 and 10-0 in the 3A West. They were undefeated against Arizona teams this season. Their 6 losses came to a combination of teams from California, New Mexico and Nevada. The Lady Dust Devils pitched 11 shutouts this season and only give up an average of 2.5 runs per game.
Safford finished the regular season 15-14 and 4-6 in the 3A South. Don’t let the overall record phase you thought. All 14 losses for the Lady Bulldogs this year have come to playoff teams. Snowflake, Pusch Ridge, Sabino and Sahuarita are all in the 3A playoffs. Morenci, Miami and Benson are in the 2A Playoffs and Bradshaw Mountain is the #3 seed in the 4A playoffs.
Both teams will feature outstanding pitchers in the circle. Safford led by senior Kristin Cocke who has racked up 141 strikeouts and surpassed the 1,000 career strikeout mark earlier this year. River Valley is lead by sophomore Chloe Hibbard who is 15-4 this year with a 2.21 ERA and has struck out 173 hitters.