PRESCOTT VALLEY — Forty-eight hours removed from its first loss of the 2019 campaign, Bradshaw Mountain’s softball team had more than enough motivation to bounce back at home this week.
After all, the 4A No. 6-ranked Bears had suffered a one-run setback on a walk-off in the seventh inning on Tuesday to No. 2 Mingus – the same opponent that visited their campus field on Thursday, March 28.
Bradshaw Mountain starting pitcher Caitlynn Neal allowed one run on three hits, striking out five and walking one, en route to an 11-1 run-ruled win that put the Bears and Marauders in a tie atop the Grand Canyon region with 5-1 records.
“We prepared really well,” Neal said. “I jammed them [Mingus hitters] in with screwballs, and then kind of worked up and down [in the zone] to just keep it away from them when I had two strikes.”
For Mingus, it was their first power-point loss of the season (10-1). Bradshaw Mountain’s 8-1 in such games. Both teams are halfway through the region season.
“We have to win every game,” Bears first baseman Kirsten Schmidt said of the six region contests Bradshaw Mountain has left. “Because it’s going to come down to power points [in regard to who wins the region] and it’s going to come down to who lost to the not-so-good teams.”
At the dish, Neal aided her own cause, going 4 for 4 with two doubles and four runs scored. Jacie Hambrick, who took the loss at pitcher Tuesday in Cottonwood, was 3 for 4 with an RBI double and a two-run, walk-off double. Hambrick tallied four RBIs and two runs scored.
“We had a total different mindset [from Tuesday] – we just came out better with our offense and our defense,” Hambrick said. “We really showed them this time what we were made of.”
Schmidt provided the spark in a three-run fourth, torching a two-run homer to center on an inside pitch. She, too, plated two runs. Madisen Duryea (2 for 4, RBI double, two RBIs, two runs scored), Kassidy Outlaw (2 for 4, run scored) and Yesenia Gomez (2 for 3) also stood out for the Bears, who improved their total record to 22-1.
“Reading the other team’s heads is a huge part of the game, and we do definitely take a lot of time making sure that we know their pitcher, we know their infield, we know every detail about the other team,” Outlaw said. “Capitalizing – taking extra bases, making our presence known – will get us going.”
Mingus freshman starting pitcher Alexis Ayersman picked up the loss, surrendering nine runs (six earned) on nine hits and walking one in 3-1/3 innings. Ayersman had won on Tuesday.
“With this pitcher, we didn’t adjust through the game on Tuesday,” Bears coach Sharon Haese said. “We had a good plan in practice, and we made the right adjustments. We knew we could push some runs across and put it in play. This is what we expect out here.”
Sophomore pitcher Chloe Shults relieved Ayersman and pitched the final 1-2/3 frames, allowing two runs on three hits.
“We figured out her [Ayersman’s] plan and their plan for how they thought they were going to beat us,” Schmidt said. “So, at practice [Wednesday] we made a goal for everybody to adjust on one thing, so we would get it this game. And one of those things was energy in the dugout, adjusting to where she was pitching and jumping on first-pitch strikes.”
But the Marauders’ defense struggled, too, committing five errors, including four in the Bears’ five-run third inning. Mingus senior third baseman Lacey Saravo said the Marauders expected the Bears to fight back.
“It could be a turning point in the season,” she added. “We’re a good team because we work hard. So that’s what we need to do, and I’m confident that we can do it. We definitely want to win the region.”
Offensively for the visitors, Dylan Sweeney accounted for two of Mingus’ three hits, as she went 2 for 2 with a double and a run scored. Designated player Hailey Cromer was 1 for 2 with an RBI single.
“We went into the game with intentions to win, but we just fell short,” Sweeney said. “And, mentally, we got down on ourselves. We just weren’t able to pick it back up.
“Our coaches say this is a stepping point [in our season] – we could either fall and fail or we could pick ourselves back up. This is a point where we need to pick ourselves back up and win.”
Mingus plays host to No. 10-ranked Coconino (4-1 Grand Canyon) for its next region game at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, in Cottonwood.
Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.