Hawks, Raiders face elimination games
The scripts for the Gila Ridge and Cibola softball teams' games today are eerily similar.
Both teams are coming off a loss to a highly ranked team. Both played well in that loss for half the game before letting the game get away. Cibola must now face the No. 3-ranked team in Division I while Gila Ridge must face the No. 4-ranked team in Division II.
And both teams are now on the brink of having their season come to an end.
The No. 7 Raiders will face No. 3 Xavier at 1 p.m. today at Rose Mofford Complex in Phoenix in an elimination game of the Division I state tournament. Gila Ridge, which was the last team eligible for the state tournament, will play No. 4 Prescott at 11 a.m. today at Rose Mofford Complex.
In their second round game against No. 2 Red Mountain, which won the state tournament in 2010 and 2011, the Raiders were tied with the Mountain Lions 0-0 after the third inning but surrendered five runs in both the fourth and fifth to lose 10-0 in five innings. But Cibola coach Shelly Baumann is confident her team will be ready to go against Xavier.
“You know, we're going to bounce right back. We played great competition, we recognize that, and we made a couple of mistakes and we lost a little bit of momentum with those mistakes, but the girls are resilient,” she said.
Cibola faced Xavier in a tournament earlier this season, and the Gators breezed past the Raiders 16-2 — and Baumann is excited about a chance for payback.
“They beat us pretty bad. We're excited to see our improvement. If we had to lose, I wanted to play them,” she said.
The No. 24 Hawks are coming off a 9-1 loss to No. 1 Sunrise Mountain in which they were tied 1-1 in the fourth inning after a Summer Ehrig home run. However, the top-ranked Mustangs pulled away to put Gila Ridge's deep playoff run in danger.
“We had a good practice and they know they played four good innings against the best team in the state, so they're not letting themselves get too beat up over what happened (Thursday),” Gila Ridge coach Jaime McGalliard said.
Gila Ridge, which upset No. 9 Desert Edge in the first round and No. 8 Mohave in the second round, will have a familiar opponent trying to take down No. 4 Prescott, which was defeated by No. 12 Greenway. The Hawks and Badgers have split two meetings this season — Gila Ridge winning 10-4 in the Boulder Creek Tournament on March 3 and Prescott winning 4-1 on March 22. The game the Badgers won was the fifth game of a tournament and Gila Ridge pitcher Nikki Kelland didn't throw.
“It's a good thing to play a familiar opponent,” McGalliard said. “We know they got some speed at the top of their lineup and they have a tough pitcher. But we have some confidence from already beating them.”
For a team like the Hawks, who sneaked into the playoffs, the fact that they are facing an elimination game is nothing new.
“Going into the week playing Kofa and playing Cibola before the playoffs even started, we've had our backs against the wall for about three weeks,” McGalliard said. “It's the position they're used to and kind of the only position they know.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson