No. 1 Salpointe continues to roll, winning 22nd straight game to reach 4A semifinals

Salpointe’s Allie Hayes is greeted at home after her three-run home run in the fourth inning in the Lancers’ 5-3 win over CDO (Stephanie van Latum/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

Tommy Lloyd would even be impressed.

The Arizona men’s basketball coach who has 61 wins in his first two seasons — the most in NCAA Division I history — is four behind Tricia Sztan’s victory total in her second season coaching the Salpointe softball program.

Sztan’s record is 65-3 after Saturday’s 5-3 win over rival CDO in a 4A quarterfinal game at Amphitheater High School.

Top-seeded Salpointe (33-1) will play Thursday in the 4A semifinals against the winner of Tuesday’s elimination-bracket game between No. 6 Paradise Honors (25-7-1) and No. 14 Flagstaff (25-9). Paradise Honors or Flagstaff would have to beat Salpointe twice to reach the championship.

No. 5 CDO (27-7) will play No. 4 Scottsdale Saguaro (22-5) in an elimination game Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Papago Softball Complex in Mesa. The winner of that game advances to play No. 2 Phoenix Greenway (28-3) in the semifinal round Thursday at the Papago Softball Complex.

Sztan coached her alma mater to a 32-2 record and 4A state championship in her first season last year.

The Lancers are on a 22-game winning streak and they also have nine straight wins against CDO, a perennial power under coach Kelly Fowler.

“CDO, one of the most resilient teams, they are well-coached, they execute, they’re aggressive …. being able to be resilient against a resilient team, hopefully that carries us into the semifinals,” said Sztan, who won a state championship with Salpointe playing for Stacy Iveson in 1993 as a junior.

Sztan and her staff are in harmony with their players to the point that the staff and players mounted visors and towels on the heads of players interviewed.

“There’s just so much love and support, constant motivation and encouragement, as you can see,” said second baseman Allie Hayes when visors were stacked more than a feet high on her head.

The game with CDO was a pitcher’s duel between Salpointe’s Gianna Mares and the Dorados’ Sydnee Wendell through the first three innings with each pitcher allowing only one hit and no walks to that point.

Salpointe broke through in the fourth inning, scoring all five of its runs while sending eight batters to the plate.

After Gianna Payne walked and Anyssa Wild singled to start the inning, the Lancers’ next two batters struck out.

Jordan Goedel followed with shallow fly ball to right field that landed and allowed Payne and Wild to score to give Salpointe a 2-0 lead.

Alma Garcia then walked and Hayes followed with a three-run home run over the center field fence.

“To be honest, just to do it for my team and Gianna, who has put in so much work this year, just being able to do that for them is an incredible feeling,” said Hayes, a senior who has five of her seven career home runs this season.

Mares, a BYU signee, scattered six hits in her seven innings with 10 strikeouts and only one walk, which was important to prevent CDO from sustained rallies.

She said having that five-run support in the fourth inning was “huge, that’s like the comforting, ‘Okay, my team is here, we’re here to fight and we’re not going to give up.'”

The Dorados scored twice in the sixth inning after Allee Noble singled and Destanee Nez doubled to start the inning.

Mares threw out Noble at home on an attempted squeeze bunt play. Nez advanced to third on the play and later scored on a fielding error.

Taya Kelly followed with an RBI single to left field to cut the lead to 5-2.

Amelia Streuber hit another single to load the bases but Mares got the last two batters to pop out and stike out.

“I think I struggled a little bit throughout the game, but there will be days that I struggle,” Mares said. “I just need to be more consistent.”

CDO tried to put together another rally in the top of the seventh after Zaedi Tagalog singled to lead off the inning.

The next two batters stuck out and grounded out but a fielding error allowed Tagalog to score to make the score 5-3.

Wendel singled to right field and the last out was recorded on the play when a runner tried to reach home but was thrown out at the plate.

“She battled,” Sztan said of Mares. “She was doing a good job trying to get a good hitting team out … she tried to get them to hit her pitch and not their pitch.”


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.

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