Sabino earns fourth straight 3A state championship with win over Empire

Sabino is the 3A state champions once again (Kevin Murphy/AllSportsTucson.com)

Sabino’s softball dynasty achieved its fourth consecutive 3A state championship, defeating regional rival Empire 5-2 on Saturday at Cherry Field behind the pitching of Avery Nielson, Riley McFarland’s two-run double and Jesamin Aguilar’s home run.

“All season, our motto has been pressure is a privilege,” Sabino head coach Cyndi Cubillas said. “We had a tough schedule, we faced a lot of 4A, 5A, 6A schools, so we knew that we earned the pressure because of how we’ve done it in the past, so we just have to embrace it and work the best that we can.”

The Sabercats (30-3) are behind only Salpointe and Mesa Red Mountain for most consecutive state titles. They have six championships overall.

The Lancers tied Red Mountain with their fifth straight title Tuesday night at Hillenbrand Stadium with a 2-0 win over Phoenix Greenway.

Empire (29-2) suffered its only two losses this season against Sabino. The Sabercats also eliminated the Ravens from the semifinal rounds of the playoffs the two previous seasons.

The teams played Saturday after attempts to play at Hillenbrand were postponed Tuesday and Wednesday because of rain.

Sabino scored first Saturday with two runs in the second inning. The Sabercats took advantage of two errors, a hit-by-pitch and a walk to score the runs.

Aguilar, a senior shortstop, put Sabino ahead 3-0 in the third inning with her eighth home run of the season.

Jesamin Aguilar rounds seconds after hitting a home run in the third inning on Saturday. (Stephanie van Latum / All Sports Tucson)

In the fifth inning, after Alyssa Aguirre singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Shyanne Duke, Aguilar was intentionally walked. Renee Williams then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Aguirre to third and Aguilar to second.

McFarland followed with a double to left field to score Aguirre and Aguilar to increase the lead to 5-0.

Empire’s Morgan Faunce cut the lead to 5-2 with a two-run home run in the top of the sixth that plated Eva Peace, who walked to lead off the inning. It was the junior first baseman’s sixth home run of the season.

A two-run home run from Morgan Faunce got Empire on the scoreboard on Saturday. (Stephanie van Latum / All Sports Tucson)

Nielson, whose sister Riley was the winning pitcher in the previous two championships for Sabino, allowed five hits with eight strikeouts and five walks in her complete-game performance. She improved to 19-1.

Empire sophomore Kendall Freidinger (21-2) allowed three hits in six innings with 10 strikeouts and three walks.


Most Arizona state softball consecutive championships

5 – Salpointe Catholic: 2018 (4A), 2019 (4A),
2021 (4A), 2022 (4A), 2023 (4A).

5 – Red Mountain: 2010 (5A Div. I), 2011 (5A
Div. I), 2012 (Div. I), 2013 (Div. II), 2014 (Div. I).

4 – Sabino: 2019 (3A), 2021 (3A), 2022 (3A), 2023 (3A).

4 – Chaparral: 1995 (4A), 1996 (4A), 1997 (4A),
1998 (4A).

4 – Hayden: 1986 (2A), 1987 (2A), 1988 (2A),
1989 (2A).

4 – Joseph City: 2000 (1A), 2001 (1A), 2002
(1A), 2003 (1A).

4 – San Manuel: 1979 (AA), 1980 (AA), 1981
(A), 1982 (A).

4 – Seton Catholic: 1996 (2A), 1997 (2A), 1998
(2A), 1999 (2A).

4 – Seton Catholic: 2002 (3A), 2003 (3A), 2004
(3A), 2005 (3A).

3 – Joseph City: 2008 (1A), 2009 (1A), 2010

3 – Sahuaro: 1991 (5A Spring), 1992 (4A Spring)
1993 (4A Spring).


Table indicates schools that won consecutive state titles with their classification, head coach and starting pitcher. Note: 2020 season canceled due to COVID-19.
YearClassCoachWinning Pitcher
20172AYogi WilsonKatie Sherman
20182AYogi WilsonKatie Sherman
YearClassCoachWinning Pitcher
20074A-IAmy SwiderskiKenzie Fowler
20084A-IAmy SwiderskiKenzie Fowler
20094A-IAmy SwiderskiKenzie Fowler
20114A-IKelly FowlerMattie Fowler
2012D-IIStephanie NicholsonKayla Bonstrom
YearClassCoachWinning Pitcher
20175AEric TathamMariah Lopez
20185AEric TathamMariah Lopez
YearClassCoachWinning Pitcher
19981ABill MotenTiffany Dawson
19991AGerald DawsonTiffany Dawson
YearClassCoachWinning Pitcher
19995AArmando QuirozAshley Monceaux
20005AArmando QuirozAshley Monceaux
YearClassCoachWinning Pitcher
20193AChris StainerDanielle Kirchofer
20213AKyle HowellRiley Nielson
20223ACyndi CubillasRiley Nielson
20233ACyndi CubillasAvery Nielson
YearClassCoachWinning Pitcher
19845AJim HigginsKristy Liechty
19855AJim HigginsNicole Sandstede
19885ABilly LopezKassandra Liechty
19894A/5ABilly LopezKimberly Currier
19915ABilly LopezGreta Carlson
19924ABilly LopezJennifer McMahon
19934ABilly LopezJennifer McMahon
YearClassCoachWinning Pitcher
19794ASheila BaizeCindy Trejo
19804ASheila BaizeCindy Trejo
19813ASheila BaizeAlice Altamirano
19823ASheila BaizeTammy Zerga
2013D4Deanne BrewerLyana Waddell
2014D4Deanne BrewerLyana Waddell
YearClassCoachWinning Pitcher
20184AAmy Baray RochaAlyssa Aguilar
20194AAmy Baray RochaAlyssa Aguilar
20214AAmy Baray RochaAlyssa Aguilar
20224ATricia SztanGianna Mares
20234ATricia SztanGianna Mares

AllSportsTucson.com’s Javier Morales contributed to his report.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top