Kings left stranded in Desert Valley opener
Monday's 5A Desert Valley softball opener between Kofa and Scottsdale-Desert Mountain could be summed up in two words.
The Wolves (8-2, 1-0) prevailed, 3-2, over the host Kings (5-5, 0-1), but neither converted on several scoring chances. The teams combined to leave 19 runners on base and bat 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
"It was a funny game," Desert Mountain coach Rick Sharp said. "I kept thinking we would blow it open, but we didn't, and Kofa had its opportunities, too."
Kofa went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base, including two in the fifth inning when it trailed by one run.
Corey Strickland led off with a single, knocking starter Lauren Kemp out of the game, and went to second on a wild pitch.
Reliever Whitney Phillips then walked Rachell Cline to bring up Rocky Kroll. Kroll tried to bunt, but missed on her first attempt. Two pitches later, Kroll missed bunting a high inside pitch, and Strickland, running on the play, was thrown out at third.
Kroll struck out on the next pitch, and after a walk, Phillips struck out Brittany Trujillo to end the threat.
Sharp believed getting out of the fifth-inning jam was the turning point of the contest. Phillips prevented the Kings from mounting another rally, retiring the last six batters to save the game for Kemp (6-1).
"It was a base-running error by a senior," Morrison said of Strickland's attempt. "She's got to make sure the ball is put in play before she takes off."
Desert Mountain scored three runs - one earned - in the first with the help of Kofa miscues. With Phillips on first, Lauren Kemp sacrificed to pitcher Alyssa Rhodes, whose throwing error to first put runners to second and third.
Casey Goldstand followed with a grounder to short. Phillips scored, but shortstop Kaylee Renick caught Kemp in a rundown at third, only for Kemp to race back to second safely as third baseman Cline held onto the ball.
Kemp and Goldstand then completed a double steal to move into scoring position. Kemp scored on a sacrifice fly and Goldstand scored on a single.
"We made some mistakes in the first inning that cost us," Morrison said.
The Kings cut the Wolves' lead to 3-2 in third inning with a two-out rally, plating runs on Cline's RBI walk and Kroll's grounder that turned into a fielder's choice and an error.
Rhodes kept the Kings in the game from there. She escaped a second-and-third jam in the fourth and a bases-loaded situation in the sixth. Rhodes (2-4) allowed five hits and three walks and struck four.
"She's doing a good job coming along," Morrison said. "She got a big strikeout in the fifth. That was a big pitch."
Kofa will compete in the Mohave Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City on Thursday through Saturday. The Kings' first game is against Santa Ana-Mater Dei at 5 p.m.
Nick Taylor can be reached at ntaylor@Yumasun.com or 782-6520.