About an hour after Salpointe’s softball team advanced in the 4A state playoffs by beating Poston Butte 15-0 in five innings Tuesday, the Lancers’ baseball team completed its quarterfinal game with a 12-3 win over Flagstaff.
Both programs play next in the semifinal round on Thursday, in which Salpointe’s softball team (22-0) will host Paradise Honors (18-0) at 4:05 p.m., and the Lancers’ baseball team (19-3) will face CDO (20-1) at 6:30 p.m., tentatively scheduled at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa. The site may change to a field in Southern Arizona because both teams are from Tucson.
While fans were required to wear masks to protect against the transmission of COVID-19, the atmosphere had the feel of normalcy to it, as the stands at both games were jam packed and the softball snack bar was even open.
As the Lancers pulled away from Poston Butte, the fans began to watch the baseball game from behind the outfield fence, and once the game was over many of the softball fans and players migrated to the baseball stands to cheer on the team.
There was palpable sense of excitement and yearning for live sports in the air, both on and off the field.
The Lancers took a 7-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, and never looked back from there, eventually run-ruling Poston Butte.
“Our team is playing really together right now for our seniors and we’re all really close on and off the field,” said Salpointe’s Alyssa Delgado, who had a solo home run in the second inning.
Senior Alyssa Aguilar was the winning pitcher, allowing one hit and no runs over two innings, in a combined shutout performance with sophomore Allie Hayes, who threw the final three innings. Junior Logan Cole finished the game with a double, a home run and four RBIs.
Head coach Amy Rocha has been impressed with the undefeated Lancers all season long, and with only two wins away from a state championship, she isn’t looking too far ahead.
“They’re a very special group,” Rocha said. “From day one, back in September when we came together and started working in the off-season, their energy connected and it’s been connected ever since.
“We take it one game at a time, and we’re keeping focused on winning that Thursday game. I know all of them have that championship mindset to get it done, and that’s what makes them such strong competitors.”
A few hundred feet from the softball field, the Lancers baseball team survived an early scare in the top of the first inning in which Flagstaff’s Sylas Clerry hit a three-run home run. Salpointe went on to score 12 unanswered runs to win the game.
Salpointe came alive on offense in the bottom of the third inning, when senior Jack Rogers hit a single, scoring two runs.
Salpointe tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning on a fielding error that brought senior Luis Garcia in for the run. The Lancers went on to score five more runs in the inning when junior Mason White hit a double that scored two runs, followed by a run scored by junior Omar Monreal on a wild pitch, and a double from junior Victor Londono that scored two runs later in the inning.
The Lancers scored four more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in which Monreal hit a double that scored a run. White hit three-run home run over the right field fence to seal the deal for Salpointe.
Senior Dawson McHughes recorded the win for the Lancers.
White finished the game with three hits, five RBIs, and two runs.
Rogers, who was responsible for bringing in Salpointe’s first three runs, was able to remain confident at the plate after the Lancers were down 3-0 in the first inning.
“I actually told the the first base umpire that there was a lot of baseball left, this is only the first inning,” said Rogers. “For me the biggest piece is just keeping my mind right.”
Salpointe head baseball coach Danny Preble wasn’t concerned with his team being able to bounce back after a slow start either.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in Dawson,” Preble said. “He’s generally speaking, a slow starter, it takes him a couple seconds to get into the game. Not worried about him in the slightest.
“We had a lot of offense, you got to get a feel for the game and see how thing’s were going, and trust in what we’ve been doing all year.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. He is currently attending Pima Community College where he writes for the Aztec Press. Next semester he will be attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he will work towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.