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Raiders rebound, top Hawks
If the Raiders hung their heads after a surprising loss to Kofa Thursday, it wasn't for long.
Cibola turned around and beat Gila Ridge 4-2 on Friday with an air-tight defense and a few timely hits.
Sydni Lankford was in the circle for Cibola and gave up two runs and six hits in her complete game effort. She struck out seven and walked none.
“I was having a good day,” Lankford said. “My rise ball and my change up were working well, it's good to see our hard work pay off.”
After giving up runs in the second and third innings, Lankford settled down and put it in cruise control, retiring 13 of the last 14 Gila Ridge batters. At one point she struck out four Hawks in a row.
“She really impressed me with her attitude and confidence out there,” Cibola coach Shelly Baumann said. “We needed our person in the circle to have confidence and she did. She led us in the right direction which was awesome.”
Bethany Olea provided the thunder in Cibola's line up, going 3 for 4 with two runs scored.
She blasted an RBI double to the left-center gap that tallied on the Raiders fourth and final run.
“She has just been phenomenal this year,” Baumann said. “All through her four years, but this year she has set herself up above everyone else. She can really hit any pitch, inside outside, she's been a valuable asset to our team.”
Olea struggled the first time around against Gila Ridge starting pitcher Nikki Kelland back on March 26, going 1 for 3.
“I just tried to stick to a plan and see a pitch that I could hit hard,” Olea said. “She mainly pitched me outside last time so I waited for something up and it was there, so I drove it.”
Errors plagued Cibola in that March 26 game as well, committing three that led to a five-run sixth inning for Gila Ridge. Friday was a different story, with both teams playing solid defense all around the diamond.
“The outcome of the game was dependent on who got the timely hit when they needed it,” Gila Ridge coach Jaime McGalliard said. “When two good teams play each other that's what happens. Who takes advantage of the opportunities that were given, and they did that and we didn't.”
The win puts Cibola in the drivers seat for the city championship, leaving Gila Ridge one game back in the standings.
The ability to recover quickly after losing to Kofa for the first time in more than five years and not letting the season spiral out of control was a teaching moment Baumann took advantage of.
“They were ready to come out and play and it makes a difference,” Baumann said. “We talked about it before the game. You learn so much about life in sports, so we always try to carry those two together. We try to learn life lessons through what happened yesterday and get what we wanted today.”