No. 3 Ironwood Ridge beat No. 7 Mountain View 7-3 Saturday to advance to the third round of the 5A softball elimination bracket. The Nighthawks will face the loser of No. 5 Horizon and No. 9 Willow Canyon Thursday night. Ironwood Ridge (22-6) took second place in the 5A state tournament in 2018 and Mountain View (19-10) battled but fell to Centennial 1-0 in 11 innings in the first round last year.
The Nighthawks scored two runs in the bottom of the first on singles from Keira Painter and Jaiden Reid and a 2-RBI single from Rachel Hirschfeld. Shelby Thompson held Mountain View in check through three innings but the Mountain Lions plated two runs in the top of the fourth on back-to-back RBIs from Jessica Niegocki and Ceci Sandoval.
Hailie Mann kept things close for the Mountain Lions from the circle until the bottom of the fourth when the first three batters reached to load the bases and Kayla Keith singled in Haidyn Warner and Reid brought in Ashley Bass and Maddie Judge. Erica Baird connected on a sacrifice fly later in the inning and the Nighthawks led 6-2.
Jordy Van der werf picked up an RBI for Mountain View in the top of the sixth but the Nighthawks got the run back in the bottom half of the inning after Diana Nisbett doubled and Hirschfeld sacrificed her home.
Thompson only collected three strikeouts in the win but she was aided by stellar defense including the play of Painter in right field. Painter caught a fly ball in the infield in the seventh inning and then threw out a batter at first base for the final out of the game.
Mountain View took home a share of the 5A Sonoran Region and the team graduates five seniors. Sandoval went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice and an RBI to lead the Mountain Lions at the plate. Ironwood Ridge beat Horizon 9-1 and Willow Canyon 3-1 in the Desert Mountain Invitational in March.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org