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Errors cost Raiders vs. Firebirds
It was the first word Cibola coach Shelly Baumann used to describe the Raiders' third inning, in which they committed three errors to allow five unearned runs in a 6-3 loss to No. 10 Chaparral on Tuesday at the Cibola softball field.
The loss drops the No. 2 Raiders (19-1 AIA) into the loser bracket of the 5A-II State Tournament, in which they will face No. 6 Desert Mountain at 4 p.m. Thursday on the west field at Sandra Day O'Connor High School in Phoenix.
Cibola starter Jackie Pierson retired the first six Firebird batters. Kendra Coleman led off the third by bunting. First baseman Myliah Ramirez fielded the ball and fired to second baseman Grecia Villa covering first, who completely missed the chest-level throw.
Kaity Carter followed with another bunt, again fielded by Ramirez. This time, the throw bounced off Villa's glove.
“We made errors, so it's kind of hard,” said Pierson, who struck out two, walked three and allowed nine hits and one earned run. “It sucks because most of them were unearned because of errors. It's not good. It's not a good feeling.”
After a bunt moved the runners over and Sam Davis hit an infield single to load the bases, Courtney Belt hit a fly ball to right field which was misplayed by Isabella Olea, who flinched just before the ball hit her glove. Kerry Duran followed with a two run single, then Bryce Villalpando had an RBI single. The Firebirds (12-8) had four hits in the inning, three coming after the three errors.
“That third inning was just ridiculous. My goodness,” Baumann said. “Two easy bunts to us, back-to-back mistakes, then it just snowballed. This is our home field, and we drop a ball in right field. We practice every day with that sun on us. We could have gotten out of that inning, but it just snowballed.”
Firebird coach B.J. Schellenberg said after Pierson's hot start, he wanted to start playing more small ball and called the bunts to start the inning.
“We went with the small game there and made them make some throws,” Schellenberg said. “They threw it away and gave us the opportunity to move some runners around.”
The Raider offense had trouble figuring out Chaparral pitcher Skylar Weinstein. She cruised through the first four innings, allowing just three hits. She ran into trouble in the fifth when the Raiders got back into the game. Villa led off with a single, then Bethany Olea and Alex Roman singled. With two outs, Pierson singled two right to score two, then a third run scored when Weinstein threw the ball away trying to get Roman at third.
But Weinstein retired the next seven batters, and the Firebirds added a run in the seventh for the win.
“Other than that one inning, we controlled that game,” Schellenberg said. “(Weinstein) was hitting her spots, moving the ball well the whole time. That's the difference right there — keeping their batters guessing and getting a lot of little popups.”
Weinstein finished with eight strikeouts, utilizing a blazing riseball and a sneaky changeup to keep the Cibola hitters off balance. She struck out eight, allowed two earned runs, walked one and struck out eight.
“We caught on to her a little bit at the end,” Baumann said. “But we didn't lay off the riseball, we haven't really seen that type since the beginning of the season. But we had it in us.”
The Raiders had seven hits in the game, four in the fifth. Bethany Olea had the Raiders' only two-hit game.