Mingus Union softball head coach John Brown knew senior shortstop/outfielder Maddie Bejarano was due and she delivered.
Bejarano hit a walk off double to beat then-No. 2 Bradshaw Mountain 3-2 on Tuesday at home.
She said that, yes, she did imagine herself in scenarios like that as a little kid and that since she put in the work, she knew she could do it.
“She’s a phenomenal pitcher, that’s given,” Bejarano said about what was thinking about going into that last at bat. “She got me the first two at bats and I wasn’t going to hang my head, I’ve hit off of her before so I just told myself ‘I’ve done it before, I can do it now, so why not?’”
Though Bejarano is hitting .596 this season, she was 0-for-3 before the two-out RBI game winner.
“I thought she was due,” Brown said. “The kid’s an outstanding hitter, she’s a good ball player, she’s going to play Division I softball for a reason and this team has had her number all season so far so I just had a great feeling, I knew it was her time and she did a great job hitting it to the opposite field, won the game for us.”
With the win, the Marauders (15-2-1, 5-0 Grand Canyon) avenged their only loss to a 4A foe.
At the Gracie Lee Haught Invitational earlier this month, Bradshaw Mountain edged the Marauders 1-0.
AIA baseball/softball rankings*
Mingus softball 2nd
Camp Verde softball 4th
Camp Verde baseball 15th
Mingus baseball 33rd
*as of Mar. 28
“I’m super excited, we just beat a great team and we beat them, it wasn’t handed to us, it wasn’t a mistake on their part, we beat them,” Brown said. “We’ve been geared up for this game for a long time, we faced them in Payson, it was a one to nothing game in Payson so we knew it was gonna be a dog fight, the girls stuck to the plan and they pulled it out so I’m super proud of them.”
The loss was Bradshaw Mountain’s (21-1, 4-1) first of the season and moved Mingus Union up to second in the AIA rankings and dropped the Bears to No. 6. However BM is still ranked No. 24 in the country in MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25 Writers’ Poll.
“This game is huge, it’s everything really,” Brown said. “We want to beat them again of course and we want to solidify a region championship. Mingus has been chasing a region championship for five years. We’ve been within one game every year and so this is our time, we’re looking forward to it and we had to get past them first.”
Freshman pitcher Alexis Ayersman threw seven strong innings, giving up two runs, five hits, five walks and striking out seven.
“Alexis pitched great, I mean she’s a freshman and for her to hold a team like that off for seven innings and keep them at such low runs, low hits, get all the strike outs she got, get all the pop ups she got, she pitched a great game,” Brown said.
Ayersman also shined at the plate, going 3-for-3. She led the third inning off with a double, which would eventually lead to the first run of the game.
“She hits the ball well too, she stays calm, she doesn’t take one into the other, so she’s an all-around good player,” Brown said. “She can run the bases well too but we run for her because she’s got to save her energy as a pitcher.”
With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh, the Bears loaded the bases with one out but Ayersman shut the door.
“You just got to smile it off,” Ayersman said about facing jams like that. “After a while you just in your head saying ‘it’s fine, just one, get the next.’”
After the Bears took the lead 2-1 in the fifth, senior utility player Paige Bartel hit an RBI triple to tie the game up. Bartel was also 3-for-3 at the plate.
“We hit the ball every inning and to get an extra base hit, a couple extra base hits, that’s a big deal because that gets everybody fired up and gets you in scoring position and when you’re not going to get a whole lot of hits, being in scoring position is everything,” Brown said.
With the win the Marauders remained undefeated, 10-0, in power point games. Their previous loss to BM was at a tournament, which doesn’t count in the rankings.
“Oh it’s a huge win,” Bejarano said. “Our name’s already been out there and it just really puts us there. It shows that we can compete and Mingus is not here to play, we’re out here to take some names and that’s what we did (Tuesday).”
The Marauders host No. 10 Coconino on Tuesday at 3:45 p.m.