TUCSON — Mingus Union softball’s season came to an end as they couldn’t sustain their quick start in the first round of the 4A state tournament.
The No. 12 Marauders (22-10) lost 12-0 to Salpointe Catholic on Saturday on the road.
Mingus Union sophomore captain Maddie Bejarano led the game off with a double but after she got stranded, the Maruaders recorded only one more hit, by fellow sophomore Delaney Hartnett, the rest of the game.
Mingus Union held the No. 5 Lancers (20-8) to one run in the first three innings, but Salpointe Catholic dropped five in the fourth and sixth in the fifth and won on a three-run walk off home run.
“Well it was a good game for about four innings (laughs) and then we let the wheels fall off a little bit,” said Mingus Union head coach John Brown. “I think a little bit of trying to play over our head maybe was part of the problem, we made a lot of errors. The pitchers couldn’t quite move the ball the way they normally do so we got hit a little bit but at the end of the day I think we just kinda choked, if I’m being honest.”
The loss was Mingus Union’s first to a team from Arizona since April 7, when they fell at home to No. 2 Cactus.
“I think that we started off really good and at the beginning I told everyone that I thought we could win this game, nothing’s gonna come easily but I thought that we could have played a lot better,” said Mingus Union senior catcher Morgan Mabery. “We held them for a really long time and then once they started hitting we just couldn’t get back on top with them. Hitting the ball, just hitting it to people, which was hard, we were hitting it hard but we just weren’t hitting it in the right spots like they were.”
The win was Salpointe Catholic’s third in a row and sixth of their last seven. Their sole loss in that span was at No. 1 Canyon del Oro.
Mingus Union committed four errors.
Mabery said the Lancers’ home field advantage was significant because the Marauders were missing family and friends because of the distance but they deserved the advantage because of their regular season success.
“We came down (Friday) night we warmed up really well, we field pretty good,” Brown said, “this is obviously their home field and they’re proud of that, they’ve got a good fan base, a beautiful complex, so they definitely had an advantage there but at the end of the day we play on the same field that they do so I think it was just a matter of we got out played (Saturday).”
Salpointe Catholic has become a girls 4A power since moving down to that level this school year, winning state titles in cross country, volleyball and soccer.
Mingus Union senior ace Krista Earl lasted 3.1 innings, giving up 4 earned runs, 9 hits a walk and striking out 3. Junior Kaycee Williams pitched 1 inning, gave up 4 hits, 5 earned runs and had one K.
Brown did have something to be proud of however.
“The most impressive thing (Saturday) was my bench and it’s not because the girls playing did a bad job,” Brown said. “It’s that they had a ton of energy even when we were down they were the 10th man if you will and we’ve been struggling with that this year so to watch that happen, it gave me goose bumps sometimes so I’m really proud of them.”
While Mingus’ tournament experience was a brief one, they made it to the tourney for the first time since 2013 after going 6-20-1 last year. They also finished second in their region after finishing 12th in their section last year.
“It went better than any other season we’ve had,” Mabery said.
“We didn’t end up with what we wanted but we’ve grown as a team, every player has grown and gotten better and that’s all you can ask for, if everybody ends up better than they were at the beginning, that’s a success on it’s own.”
While Mingus Union loses players like Mabery and Earl, who are both going on to play college softball, Brown said the program is headed in the right direction.
“When you don’t reach your goal, you feel like you failed, but at the end of the day, we won 22 games this year,” Brown said. “To win 22 games, make it to the state playoff was part of our goal, we got that, we just didn’t get as far as we wanted to get, so I think it was a success, I’m proud of them, I think they got something to build off for next year.”