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Matador softball splits with Pima
The offense of the Arizona Western softball team started and ended with the heart of the order Tuesday in its 5-4 victory over Pima Community College.
No. 3 hitter April Marquez started the day off with a solo home run, then after the Matadors fell behind 4-3 in the top of the seventh, Marquez tied it back up with an RBI single in the bottom half of the inning.
“It felt really good, actually,” Marquez said. “In those situations, everybody's yelling at you, ‘We need you, we need you.' On yourself, you put a lot of pressure, but you have to learn how to take that pressure off and that's what I've been taught to do. Sometimes I just picture that there's no one on base to get a base hit.”
Marquez went from first to third on a base hit from Robyn Alvara, who also had a two-run homer earlier in the game, which left the winning run 60 feet away for Cibola alum Alex Roman.
“Don't strike out,” Roman said she told herself. “Just get a base hit.”
The right-handed Roman rifled an opposite field shot down the right field line, scoring Marquez easily for the walk-off win.
AWC's starting pitcher Hayley Miller kept the Aztec bats at bay for the majority of the game and was an out away from the win when she gave up a two-run double to Pima shortstop Aubre Carpenter.
“I feel like a few calls could have been changed,” Miller said regarding the seventh inning strike zone. “But I had faith in the team to come back. I was worried, but honestly I have so much faith in this team. When Alex hit that, we all just ran out, we were so excited. That was a big relief.”
Miller danced around base runners most of the game, allowing six hits and seven walks, but was able to strand 10 Pima base runners.
“I was nervous,” Miller said. “I heard some stuff about this team, a couple girls I heard what to throw and what to do. (AWC catcher Savanna Baggett) and I really worked as a team that game to throw what they couldn't hit.”
The Matadors continued to hit the ball hard in the Game 2, but every ball was hit right at an Aztec defender.
The one inning the Matadors did string some hits together, their luck on the base paths ran out. They had five straight hits including two doubles but were able to score only two runs. Courtnie Ploesch was gunned down trying to go first to third on a base hit to left field from former Raider Mariah Caro, and then on the next play Caro was thrown out at the plate on a 7-6-2 relay.
“I think we used up too much energy in the first game so we didn't have a lot left for the second game,” Bethurum said. “If you don't have that energy left and you don't have those legs underneath you, you're not running bases as fast as you normally are so you think you can get there, but we're just not getting there.”
Despite AWC's five errors, the Matador infield made some sparkling defensive plays.
“I expect the ball to come to me at all times, which is why I react so fast,” Marquez said. “Every time, I just pick my teammates up as well. (Samantha Mendoza) had some good plays as well. She was back there when I miss the balls and I just have to react quickly.”
AWC starting pitcher Briana VanSickle was pulled after 2-2/3 innings after giving up four runs on five hits. Jessica Leitner came in in relief and threw the remaining 5-1/3 innings, giving up six runs, three of which were earned.
“I think a lot of the us overthink,” Marquez said. “I think there's a lot of players that want to be that girl, when all you really have to do is put it in play because before that, we had base hit after base hit, which is why we had the bases loaded. Pima did that and they did a good job, but we can do it even better. We proved it in the first game and we've proven it in games before.”
AWC travels to Coolidge to play Central Arizona at noon Saturday.