Romans keep Shamrocks on top, but Palo Verde storms back late
It took a little reminder, a dose of Roman influence, and outrunning a lot of throws for the Yuma Catholic softball team to stay undefeated in its own Shamrock Spring Classic Friday afternoon.
The Shamrocks stumbled out of the gate against San Luis before some firm words of encouragement sparked an eight-run fourth inning and a 10-0 Yuma Catholic five-inning win.
But the Shamrocks didn't keep their spotless record for long.
In the final game of the day, Yuma Catholic rallied from a 5-4 deficit against Palo Verde in the top of the sixth with four runs to take a 8-5 lead. But Palo Verde answered back with four runs in the bottom of the sixth to win the game, 9-8.
The victory created a three-way tie for the top spot in Pool A between Yuma Catholic, Palo Verde and El Centro-Central. Since Central defeated Palo Verde 5-1 earlier in the day, and Yuma Catholic defeated Central 3-1 on Thursday, there wasn't a clear-cut tiebreaker.
After a conference between the head coaches and tournament director Terry Nodlinski, a coin flip was used to break the tie.
Central was the odd man out after the flip, meaning it will play Brawley - the second-place team in Pool B - at 9 a.m. today. The winner of that game will play Holtville, the first-place team in Pool B, at approximately 11 a.m.
Yuma Catholic (7-2) and Palo Verde will play at 9 a.m. The winner of that game will meet the Holtville-Brawley/Central winner for the championship.
San Luis (1-10), which has gone 1-3 in tournament play; and Antelope (1-5), which lost all four of its games in Pool B, will play in the fourth-place game at 11:30 a.m. today.
The other area team competing, San Pasqual (0-4), lost its four games and will not play today.
"Overall I'm happy with (the team), but we are supposed to do this, and it took us four innings to play our brand of ball," Shamrocks coach Charles Dine said after his squad's victory over San Luis. "I'm not happy with that and it wasn't until after we chewed them out that they got it going. I just hate to have to do that to get them going."
The Shamrocks (7-2) scored their first two runs via the Roman way, as sisters Cassie and Priscilla Roman recorded the first scores respectively.
It was Priscilla Roman's score in the third that had the most drama, as she turned a routine dribbler to the pitcher's mound into a throwing and subsequent fielding error by the Sidewinders to come across home plate in the most unlikely type of round-tripper one could possibly see, giving Yuma Catholic a 2-0 lead.
Behind that cushion, Shamrocks senior pitcher Jennifer Jackson (2-0) worked the last of her four innings and finished by allowing only two hits while recording two strikeouts. Freshman Alysa Seale pitched the final inning for the Shamrocks.
"When I got out there I was a little shaky, but after the second inning I got my pitches down and got it going," Jackson said. "We should have to fire ourselves up and not have to have the coaches do that, but at least it's good that they did so it reminded us what we need to do to play well."
After Jackson's last inning, the Shamrocks recorded eight runs on three hits in the bottom of the fourth, as they managed to either beat numerous throws on fielders' choices or San Luis drops.
"In all honesty they bunted us to death and we are not quick enough in picking up the bunt so you have to give Yuma Catholic credit for executing so well," Sidewinders coach Tish Malone said. "I've got a lot of kids out of position and the unit we had on the field has only been together for a week so we're still learning each other."
Cassie Roman finished 2-for-3, and Megan Van Horn went 1-for-2, including a big two-run single during the fourth-inning onslaught. San Luis received hits from Patty Toledo and Michelle Varela.
But earlier in the day, the Sidewinders had much to celebrate in recording their first victory of the year, a 15-4 decision over San Pasqual.
"It was the cleanest game we played all year," Malone said. "We've waited two or three weeks for this so it's nice."
Antelope dropped its two games Friday, losing 20-7 to Gila Bend and 14-0 to Holtville. San Pasqual fell 9-2 to Central in its last game.
In other scores, Holtville defeated River Valley 6-0, Brawley dropped Gila Bend 11-4 and Brawley edged River Valley 3-1.
Late Thursday scores included Palo Verde over San Luis 13-4, Holtville over Brawley 9-0 and River Valley over Gila Bend 8-4.
All of today's game take place at Yuma Catholic High School.