Salpointe extends winning streak to 16 games, improves to 27-1 behind senior Gianna Mares

Salpointe ace Gianna Mares is 7-0 with a 0.70 ERA and is also batting .506 with 14 home runs and 49 RBIs (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Salpointe senior Gianna Mares has gone from pitching 120 2/3 innings last year to only 50 1/3 this year with three games remaining in the regular season and the No. 1 Lancers are 27-1 riding a 16-game winning streak.

That more than anything indicates how Mares’ talents go beyond the circle and the Lancers have more balance than their state-championship team last season.

Mares improved to 7-0 in her 10th appearance in the circle this season with her complete-game 9-4 victory over rival CDO on Friday night at Salpointe.

A shoulder injury for the BYU signee before the season made Salpointe’s coaches cautionary of using her excessively in the circle.

“It’s nice to be an all-around player,” Mares said. “I can play the outfield. I can pitch. I can hit. I can do anything my team needs me to do. It’s nice that I have a team that can back me up, too.”

Mares’ ERA is 0.70 and opponents are batting .128 against her.

Playing most off her time in right field this season, Mares is batting .506 and leading Southern Arizona with 14 home runs and is second behind Benson’s Tatum Benson with 49 RBIs. Benson has 54.

The quality production of juniors Arianna Flores and Alexis Guzman has allowed Salpointe coach Tricia Sztan from feeling forced to use Mares in the circle more often.

Guzman is 5-0 with a 1.33 ERA and Flores 4-0 with a 1.40 ERA. Guzman has 53 strikeouts and only nine walks in 31 2/3 innings while Flores has 62 strikeouts and 13 walks in 40 innings.

When asked about playing mostly in the outfield this season, Mares said, “It’s been honestly really good. It’s nice to see our juniors come up and be able to get the job done.”

Mares and Salpointe battled back immediately after CDO’s Mari Asher and Amelia Streuber hit home runs in the third to give the Dorados a 2-0 lead.

Salpointe responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning and Mares helped ignite the rally with an RBI single with one out after the first two batters — Alma Garcia and Allie Hayes — walked.

After Gianna Payne walked to load the bases following Mares’ hit, Anyssa Wild hit an RBI single to tie the game at 2. Jae Castillo followed with a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Mares to give Salpointe the lead.

“I’m incredibly proud of them because they take a challenge and they take it very personally,” Sztan said of Salpointe’s approach after falling behind by two runs. “Whatever they need to fix, you can see a few of them, they grab some dirt and throw it away and get rid of it. They take a few breaths to make sure they stay in the moment.

“They then do what they need to do, which is hit the ball, run the bases, catch the ball, pitch the ball … I’m really proud of them because they’re taking adversity, leaning into it and trying to overcome it.”

The six-run fourth inning blew the game open for Salpointe, which extended its lead to 9-2.

Garcia hit a two-run home run and Wild capped the rally with a two-run single.

Wild, a junior first baseman, finished 2 for 4 with three RBIs. Mares was the other Lancer with multiple hits, going 2 for 4 with two runs and an RBI.

“It’s all about the team; we had amazing energy,” Wild said. “Gianna pitched an amazing game. Our energy is up. Going up to the bat and the dugout that alive, it gives you all the confidence you need.

“It didn’t matter about my first at-bat (a strikeout). All that mattered is I knew my team had my back. Even if I got out, Jae is right behind me. It’s just about having faith in what your teammates can do. It’s really helpful.”

Mares scattered eight hits and allowed two earned runs in her seven innings. She recorded six strikeouts with one walk.

CDO rallied for two runs in the top of the seventh, but by that time, the damage by Mares and the Lancers was done.

“Gianna was an excellent example of poised on the mound and being able to deliver what she needed to do,” said Sztan, who is 58-4 in her second season as head coach at her alma mater. “Her changing speeds in the latter part of the game, which I thought was incredibly effective for her and Jae behind the plate was in sync with her the whole time.

“Just really proud of those two.”

Castillo, a junior, has committed to BYU, so the battery-mates will be reunited in Provo, Utah, with the Cougars in the 2025 season.


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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top