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AWC falters in final games of tournament
The Arizona Western softball team scored a combined 20 runs in the second day of the Great Western Shootout.
Unfortunately for the Matadors, none of those runs carried over to the final day.
After winning their first six games of the tournament, the Matadors were shut out twice on Saturday — 4-0 to No. 1 Salt Lake Community College and 4-0 to Southern Idaho.
“Everyone has one of those days but I think we got away from the basics,” Matador coach Nikki Bethurum said. “We got away from just getting runners on base. Our swings were really long. We were trying to win it with one swing of the bat.”
The Matadors (8-4) beat Salt Lake 6-4 in the first day of the tournament but they weren't scoring six runs on Bruins this time. Not with the way MaCauley Flint was pitching.
Flint, Salt Lake's ace, threw a dominating three-hit shutout while walking none and striking out 15 in the morning game.
“I felt really good warming up. I closed the first game so seeing those hitters helped me. And knowing (AWC) beat us the other day, knowing how good they were, I just had to hit my spots.” Flint said. “My ball was spinning really well and my change-up felt really good and I was hitting my spots.”
“We were long in our swings and we didn't adjust to her,” Bethurum said. “I'll give her the first time through the lineup — the first seven or eight — but the second time through the lineup we should adjust a little bit and got the ball in play.”
Flint opened the game striking out the first six batters and had a stretch from the third to the fifth where she struck out seven straight. The only player to have any consistent success against Flint was freshman right fielder Mariah Caro, who went 2 for 2 with a pair of singles.
The Bruins (6-3) pulled away in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a pair of miscues by the Matadors. Already leading 1-0, Salt Lake right fielder Hannah Williams hit a two-out ground ball to Matador third baseman April Marquez, who looked the runner back to second base and allowed Williams time to reach first base safely. The following batter, Maddy Woodard, reached on an error by shortstop Samantha Mendoza to load the bases. Matador pitcher Briana VanSickle walked the next batter and allowed a two-run single to Whitney Holt to give the Bruins plenty of breathing room for Flint.
“That was the key turning point, absolutely, because everything in that inning happened with two outs,” Salt Lake coach Mary Kay Amicone said. “That let us play a little freer.”
However, with the way the Matadors were swinging the bat, Bethurum felt the three-run fourth inning didn't affect the game too dramatically.
“You can't really blame too much on the defense if you can't score a run at this point,” she said.
The bats for the Matadors didn't heat up in the second game, as they managed just four hits in the loss to Southern Idaho.
“Today we knew we had a big game playing Salt Lake right off the bat and once we didn't perform at the top of our level against Salt Lake we carried it on to our second game and came out really flat,” Matador center fielder Courtnie Ploesch said.
Arizona Western kicks off conference play with a doubleheader against Chandler-Gilbert at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Despite dropping the final two games, Bethurum said she learned something about her team in the three-day, eight-game tournament this weekend.
“We have some fight, that's for sure,” she said. “We got some players who really didn't like losing that last game in the dugout. We do have some fight.”