CDO softball, baseball advance in 4A state playoffs

Minutes after CDO’s softball team advanced in the 4A state playoffs Saturday by coming back and beating Sahuaro 11-4, the Dorados’ baseball team completed its first round game with a 20-0 five-inning win over Surprise Paradise Honors.

The two programs, both of which have a good shot at 4A state titles, will once again play at the same time Tuesday only a few feet from each other in the quarterfinal round.

CDO’s softball team (17-3) will host Glendale Cactus (17-3) at 4 p.m., when the first pitch will be thrown by the Dorados’ baseball team (19-1) against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep (14-7).

Saturday’s games ended at about the same time so walking from one field to the next, it was noticed that some of the CDO softball players helped maintain their field, a couple of them sweeping the dugouts, while the Dorado baseball players were working on their diamond, including raking around home plate.

CDO is 17-3 as it advances to the 4A state quarterfinals (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

A huge RV with CDO paraphernalia on it was parked beyond the outfield fence of the baseball field.

Fans and players, including some of CDO’s softball players, lingered to socialize.

Nobody wanted to leave.

After COVID-19 took the 2020 regular season and postseason away, the Dorados want to bask in the playoffs this year for as long as they can.

“Our seniors deserve it more than anyone,” said CDO’s Megan Clark, whose two-run home run was part of a decisive eight-run fourth inning against Sahuaro. “They’ve gotten robbed not only one season but now two (with only 19 regular season games, 10 less than usual). Their senior year, their prom, everything, didn’t go their way.

“Winning this means everything, to not just me, but every grade just so we can get them a little bit back of what they got taken away from them.”

Miia Campos, one of 10 seniors on the Dorado roster, hit her first home run of the season and only the third of her four-year varsity career to ignite that eight-run rally.

She hit a home run in her freshman season, another as a sophomore and now one as a senior. She did not have enough opportunities in only four games due to COVID-19 last season to belt one as a junior.

“It means a lot to us and we’re hoping to make it far after last season,” Campos said. “Hopefully we can fight through it and keep it up.”

A few minutes after Kelly Fowler and her coaching staff spoke to the team after the win — speeches that were often interrupted by cheering from the players — she was greeted on the infield by her daughter Kenzie Fowler, a legendary CDO and Arizona softball pitcher who had the weekend off from announcing Pac-12 softball games for the Pac-12 Networks.

They embraced, exemplifying the family atmosphere Kelly Fowler, who has coached three state title teams, has created in the program throughout her storied career with the Dorados.

Because many junior varsity seasons were canceled due to COVID-19, Kelly Fowler has played with a larger roster than usual, which presented the challenge of keeping many of the players happy while sharing playing time.

“We have a huge roster because of COVID and we really wanted to be loyal to all of the kids and give them an opportunity because they have been home for so long,” she said. “The team bought in. We’re deep. The crazy thing is we’re deep everywhere. We’re two-deep at any position and anyone can come in at any time when someone is not having a great game.”

An example of that Saturday was sophomore pitcher Sydnee Wendel entering with one out in the second inning after a solo home run by freshman leadoff hitter Gracie Goerke gave Sahuaro a 4-0 lead.

Wendel proceeded to allow only two hits with no runs over 5 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and one walk.

“What can you say? They have as good as chance as anybody with their hitting and the girl (Wendel) who came in and pitched last,” Sahuaro coach Jeff Fowler said.

Fowler’s eyes were red from tears of knowing his six seniors played their last game for him.

One of them, Cassidy Morrow, went 2 for 3 with a double and pitched 2 2/3 innings of effective relief not allowing an earned run.

“They did a great job holding up this year,” Jeff Fowler said of his team about the uncertainty of COVID-19 and starting 1-6 before winning 10 of 12 before Saturday. “We started rough in our first few games, but nobody’s gonna feel sorry for Sahuaro for what we’ve done in the past (playing in the 5A state title game in 2017).

“We’ve just got to keep going and going, and the girls understand. It wasn’t our day today.”

It was certainly CDO’s day in baseball with its relatively quick win over outmanned Paradise Honors.

CDO heads to the 4A state quarterfinals 19-1 (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

The Dorados totaled 13 hits with three players getting multiple hits — Andrew Stucky (2 for 5 with a home run and five RBIs), Jayden Bracy (3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs) and Michael Kochanski (2 for 2 with a double and two runs and two RBIs).

Starting pitcher Dante Schindler had to pitch only four innings and allowed two hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

Dante Schindler got the four-inning win for CDO in its 20-0 win over Paradise Honors (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

All four are seniors playing their final games with the Dorados and coach Jason Hisey, a former standout Arizona pitcher.

“I just think these kids are excited to play this time of year, and it’s CDO,” Hisey said, noting the Dorados’ five state titles and history of producing major leaguers such as Ian Kinsler, Chris Duncan, Shelley Duncan and Brian Anderson.

“There is a lot of tradition here and the kids want to be part of it.”

Unlike the past, this year’s state tournament is single-elimination, which is not new for Hisey.

“It would have been nice this year to have a double-elimination tournament,” he said. “But, hey, back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, it was single elimination when I was at Catalina Foothills. I’m used to it.

“I am just happy for the guys they get this chance after what happened last year. It’s pretty much the same team, except for four seniors, but the bulk of the guys are back and ready.”


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.

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