The playoff push is on in the ACCAC softball wars. And four teams are knotted in a scramble to the top.
A red-hot Arizona Western team is mixing it up today with Yavapai College, and Central Arizona College is visiting Pima CC, as each team tries to break out of the pack. Western is tied with Central, and both are one game behind Yavapai and Pima.
Today’s doubleheader is just the beginning of Western’s rough patch of road to the top, since its next eight games are against Pima, Central, and Yavapai. The four teams are beating each other up to earn the right to host the Region 1 tournament in May, with home-field advantage going to the first-place finisher in the conference.
Western (33-12/14-4) have been sizzling this month, going 20-1 since the beginning of March. The Matadors finished their non-conference schedule with Wednesday’s doubleheader against Peninsula College (Wash.), getting a big head of steam off a 13-2 and 14-0 rout.
Western piled up 33 hits in the two-game tilt and have strung together 10 straight wins.
In the opener, the Matadors scored seven runs in the first and five more in the fourth, thanks to a string of doubles by Ashley Beebe, Jazmin Reed, and Shelbi Dillon. In the second game, it was more of the same as Western scored nine runs in the first; Jessica Soria and Marqis Lozoya each doubled.
Shaylee Yellowhair pitched the second game for Western and struck out eight in her fourth consecutive start, running her record to 13-1.
Meanwhile, Central (31-13/12-4) is coming off a split of a doubleheader against Yavapai, the defending Div. 1 national champions.
Yavapai (34-9/13-3) took the opener, 12-7, in a slugfest that lasted just over two hours and saw both teams combine for 19 runs on 25 hits. There were 20 runners left on base. The Roughriders had 13 hits on their side of the scorebook, including a two-run blast by Molly Brossart. Davina Flores and Jamie Prussic had three hits apiece for Central, while Brossart and Alex Landon had three apiece for Yavapai.
In the second game, Yavapai left 10 runners stranded on base, thanks to Central pitcher Katie Tamayo buckling down when she had runners in scoring position. Alia Williams contributed a home run in the fourth for the Vaqueras, and Yavapai’s Vanessa House had three hits in the losing effort.
The month of April is going to be interesting.