PHOENIX — It was an exciting afternoon on the softball diamond Wednesday afternoon for the Rincon/University Rangers, pummeling the North Mustangs 14-0 in a game that was called after six innings.
Going into the game, North had a record of 6-5, compared to the Rangers’ 1-10, but the Rangers played absolutely lights out to pick up a significant win on the road.
“We’re definitely happy about it,” Coach Emily Richardson said. “The girls played hard, especially in the second half of the game when they figured out their offense.”
Things started off in favor of the Rangers out of the gate, who were able to get the bats swinging early and take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Strong defense helped the Rangers rip through the Mustangs to close out the first without giving up any runs and holding the lead.
Senior Destiny Robles came up to the plate as the second batter in the inning, where she was walked by North’s pitcher Zhariah Hinton. From there, Robles was able to steal second during junior Ella Gough’s trip to the plate, where she was later walked to put two on base with freshman Campbell Finely coming to the plate. Hitting a ground ball to the split between second and third base, Robles was able to cross home to make it 2-0 Rincon/University before a pop fly closed out the top of the second.
More strong defense made it a quick turnaround as the Mustangs weren’t able to do much in the bottom of the second.
Offensively, the Rangers really started finding their groove in the top of the fourth. Robles stepped up to bat first, where she was once again walked to start things out with a runner on base and no outs. Junior Davina Romero–Wilson was also walked, sending Robles to second with no outs and Gough batting next. Gough had a base hit to load things up before freshman Kamilah Price hammered a 2-run RBI single to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead.
Two quick outs turned the pressure on for the remaining batters in the lineup as the Rangers looked to avoid leaving girls stranded on base. With ice in her veins, freshman Jianna Cota hit a three-run homer to take a 7-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Senior Rachael Baderscher followed up with a base hit, before an error by North’s second baseman allowed sophomore Izabel Castillo to reach first while Baderscher advanced to second. Robles was once again walked before Romero-Wilson had a two-run RBI double to give the Rangers a 9-0 lead.
It was a quick outing once again for the Mustangs, as junior Marina Price’s pitching continued to hold strong.
“I think our defense gets us to hit,” Richardson said. “We go out because we want to go in and hit, I think that’s probably one of the things we enjoy the most. We haven’t had a strong circle this year and we’ve been moving around a lot of girls on the infield, so just being able to come out here with very minimal errors has been very nice and it helps bleed into that offense.”
One run away from getting the mercy rule, Rincon/University took the plate once again in hopes of keeping the offense alive. Confidence was clearly building for the young squad as the game progressed, with each improving on their aggression with each at-bat.
“Some of them have a really high softball IQ, they just don’t play aggressive yet,” Richardson said. “I’m looking for some aggression from a lot of the younger ones especially.”
Kamilah Price was the first to take the plate in the top of the fifth, where she had a lead-off double. North’s defense looked like it might do something in this inning, as the Mustangs were able to turn a double-play off sophomore Raeanna Meza’s hit to third base.
With two out and nobody on, this would have been prime time for North to capitalize on the moment and close out the inning without giving up any runs. However, after walking Marina Price, Cota had another RBI double to make it 10-0 Rangers before the Mustangs were able to get the third out.
Marina was able to get three easy outs in the bottom of the fifth to keep the momentum rolling and put the Rangers back up at bat once again.
A pitching change by North sent Cyana Torres to the mound in hopes of fending off any more runs. It proved to be unsuccessful, as wild pitches walked both Castillo and Kamilah Price to put two runners on base with no outs. Romero-Wilson had a nice at bat sending her to second, but unfortunately Castillo was tagged before crossing home plate.
Another run was scored on an error during an at bat by Erika Prieto, also sending her to first base. From there, Prieto was able to steal second during Kamilah Price’s at-bat, putting two runners in scoring position. On a pop fly, Romero-Wilson was able to cross home to advance the score to 12-0.
The troubles continued for the Mustangs, who were finally able to get out of the top of the sixth inning trailing 13-0. Still struggling offensively, after a quick end to the bottom of the sixth the Mustangs decided to call it a game.
“I want to take this as a win in our books, but we still did a lot of things that we need to work on and practice,” Richardson said. “We definitely don’t want to become complacent with this. There’s a lot of really good teams in Arizona and I don’t think we can use this game as a marker for how we’re going to do the rest of the season.”
With an incredibly young team, Richardson knows this was a significant win but there’s still a lot more work to be poured in. There’s only three seniors on this year’s squad, and a majority of the girls who did some heavy lifting in the game were freshmen. Richardson says the girls just need to see more at-bats and keep growing, as she sees a ton of potential for their future.
“It’s a lot of seeing at bats, and making sure you’re paying attention when you’re in the dugout,” Richardson said. “Watching and paying attention every pitch of an at-bat, you know, a lot of these girls just need to watch softball. They need to watch the play of the game and you can see it kind of following along with their skill levels as they see more and more.”
Rincon/University hits the road again on Friday afternoon to travel to South Mountain High School. The Jaguars are currently 0-6 on the season, which will provide the Rangers with another excellent opportunity to continue building.
“We needed it,” Richardson said about the win. “I’m glad that we figured it out and we’ll come back and play a similar team on Friday.”