Salpointe strength and conditioning coach Carla Garrett, the Arizona Sports Hall of Famer with her Olympic background in the shot put and discus, gave a menacing yet playful look toward Lancer ace Alyssa Aguilar.
Garrett told Aguilar she has to fix walking a batter in the fifth inning with top-seed Salpointe up 11-0, trying to win by mercy rule over No. 16 seed San Tan Combs in the opening round Tuesday of the 4A state playoffs.
“You have to fix that so I can go home earlier,” Garrett said with a smile after Aguilar struck out the last batter to preserve the shutout and mercy-rule win.
No. 1 @SalpointeLancer advances in the 4A state softball playoffs run-ruling No.16 San Tan Combs 11-0 in 5 innings. Lancers will host Douglas in the next round on Thursday. Time to be determined. pic.twitter.com/dIsDKurjgK
Aguilar pitched a one-hitter (an infield single) with nine strikeouts and two walks in the five innings of work to improve to 18-3. Only one Combs batter (Shea Pearson) reached third base, the one in the fifth who walked with one out and came around on catcher’s indifference and a strikeout in which the ball got away.
The Lancers (21-4) next host Douglas (20-4) on Thursday at 4 p.m. in the 4A state playoffs.
“It’s really good just to know that we can move on to the next round and become closer to another state championship,” said Aguilar, who also went 2 for 3 with an RBI double and a run.
.@SalpointeLancer sophomore ace Alyssa Aguilar (now 18-3) pitched a one-hitter (an infield dribbler) and struck out nine with two walks in a five-inning 11-0 win over San Tan Combs in the opening round of the 4A state playoffs. pic.twitter.com/tn3FDtTiFE
Aguilar started for Salpointe last year as a freshman and was in the circle when the Lancers beat Glendale Cactus 2-0 for the 4A state title.
“She’s been composed since Day One last year,” said Salpointe coach Amy Baray-Rocha, the former Arizona player. “I have the utmost respect for her work ethic and her will to get it done. She just does. It’s amazing.
“I had never seen her. I was in awe of her ability to get on the mound and not be intimidated and just throw with a lightness. She just has fun. She just keeps it really light.”
Aguilar had one of three run-scoring doubles for Salpointe in the first inning as the Lancers immediately went ahead 3-0. Anjolee Aguilar-Beaucage and Diana Miranda-Montano had the other doubles.
.@SalpointeLancer Malaea Rocha – bound for @UtahStateSoftba – overcame strep throat yesterday, missing practice, and she hit a HR today in the Lancers' 11-0 win over Combs in the 4A state playoffs. pic.twitter.com/DJIuYihuIz
Aguilar-Beaucage and Miranda-Montano each had one of the Lancers’ three home runs in a seven-run third inning that increased the lead to 11-0. Malaea Rocha had the other home run, her fourth of the season.
Aguilar-Beaucage hit her eighth home run and Miranda-Montano her seventh.
“We have a power lineup and I’ve got to give that credit to our weightlifting coach, Coach Garrett, on the offseason we weightlift hard,” Rocha said. “We’ve been doing it all season. I think that’s really helped us giving us our strength.”
Malaea, a senior bound for Utah State on a scholarship, won’t be around next season for her mom, Amy Baray-Rocha. But many others will be back for the Salpointe coach because the Lancers’ lineup is laden with young talent.
Only two seniors are in Salpointe’s lineup — Rocha and Miranda-Montano.
“It’s a great bunch that we were able to put together this year,” said Baray-Rocha, who won a national title with Central Arizona College in 1997 and went on to play for Mike Candrea at Arizona. “We’re going to enjoy it. Next season (with the youth of this team) is a new season but right now, we’re just having fun with them.”
Baray-Rocha added that the Lancers are “very childlike the right way.”
“They play sandlot style. That’s what I admire about them the most. Every time they come out here, they just enjoy each other. What I like too is they never take one moment for granted. They really give it their all every time they’re together, every time they walk through those SC gates.”
Salpointe has won 15 consecutive games including four straight shutouts. In that stretch, in which the Lancers have outscored the opposition 51-0, Aguilar has pitched 20 innings allowing only six hits with 39 strikeouts and only five walks.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.