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Area teams prepped for today's games
Yuma High hasn't beaten Cibola this year, but to advance in the 5A-II state softball playoffs, they'll have to beat a team that beat Cibola six days ago.
The No. 11 Criminals face No. 15 Avondale-La Joya in a elimination bracket quarterfinal 4 p.m. today at Phoenix-Sandra Day O'Connor. On the opposite field of the complex at the same time, the Raiders face No. 3 Deer Valley.
La Joya topped Cibola 1-0 in the opening round, knocking the Raiders into the elimination bracket. Yuma High lost its opening game at No. 11 Tucson-Sunnyside, but recovered with a home win against No. 14 Laveen-Betty Fairfax. La Joya lost its second round to No. 7 Ironwood, setting up the neutral site game against the Criminals.
Myleena Torres is likely to be on the hill for La Joya. Her slower velocity kept Cibola off-balance on Saturday, but Cibola coach Shelly Baumann gave Yuma High coach Liz Huyck a scouting report, preparing the Criminals for another slow pitcher. Marina Duenas was on the hill for the Stampede, and the Criminals scored 11-0 off the slowball artist.
"The last couple days with practice here we were slowing the machine down and making that adjustment," Huyck said. "We got the heads up for it and now won't be a little shocked liked Cibola, they haven't seen a lot of that all year. If we can make the adjustment early, we should be OK."
The Raiders managed just four hits off Torres in the opening round, but Huyck said she thinks her team can have some success.
"She's slow but consistent," Huyck said. "Their defense was pretty solid and didn't make a lot of mistakes. We need to be patient at the plate and adjust to the pitcher like we did the other day and just play our game."
Isabel Villalobos will be in the circle for the Criminals. She's pitched both games, including the 3-0 loss in the opener.
And while the Criminals have second-hand knowledge of the Lobos, the Raiders have first-hand knowledge of their opponent, having lost 11-1 to Deer Valley in a tournament earlier this year.
"It was early in the season and we didn't have a good game there," Baumann said. "But they're a good team, they're ranked third and I was surprised when I saw Sunnyside beat them."
Baumann said that game may not have been the best measuring stick. Raider ace Sarah Ray did not pitch, and many players were out of position, leading to five Cibola errors. Still, Baumann said there are some powerful sluggers in the lineup that Ray will have to be careful with.
"They have some big hitters," Baumann said. "We're going to have to be smart if we have to pitch to them or walk them. But we're excited. Even though we're ranked higher than them - take that as it is - we're excited to be the underdogs."
Should both Cibola and Yuma High win, they'd meet Saturday in an elimination semifinal game Saturday. Both coaches said nothing firm had been set, but Huyck said the game would likely be at 10 a.m. or 11:45 a.m. at Kofa.
Baumann said the Raiders are focused on "taking it one game a time," Huyck said, however, that the team is aware a possible rematch with their rivals lurks around the corner.
"It definitely could happen," Huyck said. "We each have games to worry about first, and that's what I'm trying to keep my team focused on and not looking ahead. Sometimes when you look ahead, you can get burned. And we don't want that to happen."
Both Cibola and Yuma High are coming through an elimination bracket, something the two area baseball teams still alive - YC and San Pasqual - don't have the luxury of. The 2A and 1A tournaments are both single elimination.
San Pasqual opens the 1A tournament playing Gila Bend, which went 24-2 but only earned the No. 2 seed out of the East region. Four players for the Gila Monsters are hitting more than .500, their team ERA is 2.32, and they have nine seniors.
"They've got nine seniors, which is top-heavy and rare for a 1A school," coach Faron Owl said. "Our work is cut out for us, I guess you could say that."
The Warriors (16-9) tied a school record for wins, but will be shorthanded for the game at 1:30 p.m. today at Tempe Diablo Complex. Three players will be attending the funeral of a former San Pasqual student, forcing Owl to use softball player Denise Orzoco as his starting right fielder and shuffle his entire defense around.
Aaron Lucero will get the start for the Warriors.
"We're not going to be going full force," Owl said, "but we're going to do the best we can at this point in time."
The winner advance to the quarterfinals at 2 p.m. Saturday at Diablo.
The No. 11 Shamrocks play a 2A second-round game against No. 6 Bourgade Catholic after winning their opening-round game 15-0 against Sanders-Valley behind a no-hitter from Gerardo Robles. Bourgade had a first-round bye. Gametime is noon today at Peoria Sports Complex.
Bourgade topped YC 7-5 earlier this year on a late two-run home run.
"They're kind of our nemesis," YC coach Curt Foppe said. "Two Catholic schools, going at it. They knocked us out of the playoffs last year. I know the kids are excited to have the chance to play them again. Hopefully we can turn it around and have the fate go our way."
Foppe said he wasn't sure who was going to start, saying it could one of three different pitchers. With a win, the Shamrocks would play noon Saturday in a quarterfinal at Peoria Sports Complex.
"I think our kids are very much ready to play. They're excited to play," Foppe said. "They wish we could play already. But we have to play the waiting game."