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Kofa freshmen shut out Yuma High
In Yuma's longest-standing prep rivalry, the Kofa and Yuma High softball teams delivered a good old-fashioned pitchers' duel on Thursday.
However, it was Kofa's young guns who brought the win home in a 2-0 victory at Yuma High.
Freshmen Kennedy Garcia and Sarai Camacho combined to toss a shutout, but not before some late-inning drama presented itself. Garcia was mowing through the Criminal lineup up until the bottom of the seventh, when she gave up a single and a walk to start the frame. That's when Kofa coach Emma Morrison called on Camacho, who got three quick outs to end the game.
“I like that 1-2 punch, it works,” Morrison said. “Both of them are great. At the drop of the hat, I can say, ‘Sarai, go in,' and she does her job.”
Aided by some stellar defense behind her, Garcia started off the game with three perfect frames and finished six-plus innings of work, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out two. She also got out of an intense situation in the sixth inning while holding onto a 1-0 lead. After Ivana Aguirre hit a two-out double that nearly left the park, Yuma High's best hitter, freshman Brittney Ramos, came to the plate. One pitch after Ramos took a big cut and missed, Garcia fanned her with a changeup to kill the threat.
“I don't like it, but it gets exciting,” Garcia said of pressure-filled situations. “That's when I really want to win. Like right now, I was just jumping in the dugout, going crazy. I almost fell, but, yeah, it was fun.”
While the pitching was certainly noteworthy, it wouldn't have been possible with out some stellar King defense. Kofa's infield, namely third baseman Krista Keller and shortstop Madison Tracy, provided several key stops throughout the game. Morrison said it was the first time her team had played an error-free contest all year.
“We've struggled in games with errors,” Morrison said. “I told the girls, ‘This is what happens when you play an errorless ball game.'”
Kofa leadoff hitter Amanda Young started off the evening with an infield single before moving around to third on a throwing error by Yuma High catcher Marissa Madrigal. Young would eventually score on an RBI groundout from Miranda Brookhart. It was the game's only run until the top of the seventh, when the Kings (3-7) loaded the bases with no outs and received an RBI single from Danielle Torres, but Yuma High's Isabel Villalobos got out of the jam with no further damage.
Villalobos was charged with the hard-luck loss after tossing a complete game, allowing seven hits and a walk while striking out three.
“That's what's so hard to swallow after a game like this – she pitched well and we didn't make a lot of mistakes,” Yuma High coach Liz Huyck said. “Offensively, we just couldn't get much going.”
The Criminals (6-6, 1-0 Gila Valley Region) have already formed an identity as a comeback team this year, but it wasn't meant to be on Thursday. Huyck said she thought her team was on the verge of creating some more come-from-behind magic in the late innings.
“Absolutely,” Huyck said. “It's never over till it's over.”