Marana’s game plan of being aggressive on the base paths and riding the arm of starter Tatum Chappins long enough for closer Sophia Pacholczyk to shut the door worked for its team to survive another day in the District 5 tournament against Tucson Mountain.
Marana’s 10-7 win over Tucson Mountain on Wednesday night set up a winner-take-all final game Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the District 5 Little League Softball Tournament at Arthur Pack Regional Park.
Tucson Mountain could have won the title with a victory Wednesday after a 13-12 win over Marana on Tuesday but Marana’s win means the teams will meet for the third time in three nights to decide the championship.
“Tucson Mountain is a good team. They’re well-coached and their catcher (Sam Villanueva) is phenomenal,” Marana manager Wes Henson said. “We had to take advantage of any type of openings that we saw. We started reading a little bit of their defense and our girls can take off and run.”
Marana manufactured its runs by tallying 11 stolen bases while taking full advantage of nine walks.
Marana catcher Rhiannon Burnett was the lone multi-hit batter in the game with two singles, one of them producing a run in the fourth inning giving her team a 5-4 lead. Marana would not trail again.
“She got the bat on the ball and did a good job behind the plate, throwing a runner out at second,” Henson said. “She really helped keep them on their heels.”
After Tucson Mountain tied the game at 5 in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Autumn Persons, Marana started taking control in the fifth scoring three runs despite not recording a hit. They walked four times and reached base on an error.
Marana had three stolen bases in that pivotal inning including one by Kayla Henson, who had three steals in the game.
Tucson Mountain cut the lead to 8-7 in the bottom of the fifth highlighted by Vanity Valles’ RBI double, but Marana answered with two runs in the top of the sixth on Cadence Tarket’s RBI single and her later scoring on an error
Pacholczyk entered in the bottom of the sixth and retired the side to close the game, ending it with a strikeout. Chappins got the win striking out four batters and persevering through difficult stretches in each of her innings.
Little League baseball and softball action at Arthur Pack at sunset and with a full moon.
“Tatum did a great job,” said Henson, who awarded Chappins with the game ball. “She pitched two great games in a row (including Tuesday). She gutted it out. She had a good command and her changeup was on point today.
“She battled through. She had some errors in the field that kind of set her back a little bit but she battled through. She didn’t let it affect her. She just plugged right on.”
Pacholczyk entered with a lively fastball.
“The change of pace was really good when she came in,” Henson said. “They’re two different speeds and type of pitchers (Chappins and Pacholczyk). Having to adjust to that was something we were hoping would throw them off and it worked out to our advantage.”
Remember the name of Tucson Mountain’s Alma Teilon. She was particularly impressive with significant pop off her bat. She hit a triple and nearly had another extra-base hit but her hard-hit line drive to right field in the fourth was snagged by Marana’s Elsie Rasmussen.