There had to be a bunch of college scouts in the stands at the Dave Kops Sports Complex at Mohave High School over the weekend.
Some of the best high school softball teams in the country show up each year for the MaxPreps Tournament of Champions, and this year the field included 36 teams, nine of which came from all over Arizona. Teams from Arizona, Texas, California, Utah, and New Mexico converge on Bullhead City for the annual event.
One of those talented prep stars came in with her Rio Rancho HS team and gave University of Arizona fans something to get excited about. Shelby Pendley, a shortstop for Rio Rancho who will be attending UofA next year, gave those in the bleachers a little excitement right out of the box, going 3-for-3 at the plate in a 9-2 mercy-ruled win over host Mohave HS on the opening day. That included a double, three runs scored, an RBI, and a stolen base. She did everything but drag the infield before the game.
And, for the Arizona State fans, there was Dallas Escobedo, throwing fire from the mound. The right-hander will be in a maroon-and-gold uniform next season.
But the gem of the weekend was a pitching duel in the championship game, which was won by St. Mary’s HS in Phoenix. Escobedo, one of the best pitchers in the state, threw a perfect game for St. Mary’s, striking out 21 batters in 12 innings.
On the mound for Los Alamitos HS (Calif) was Amanda Sugita, who set down batter after batter, giving up just two hits through the first 10 scoreless innings.
But the payoff – for the fans as well as the St. Mary’s Knights – came in the top of the 12th inning when Kiana Lomelli uncorked a grand slam home run for the 4-0 victory. The Griffins had intentionally walked Escobedo to get to Lomelli.
Bad idea. Lomelli’s homer sailed over the center-field fence to bring the contest to a merciful conclusion.
St. Mary’s brought home the win. But it means more than just another addition to the school’s trophy case. The winner of the Tournament of Champions is usually named the No. 1 high school softball team in the country.
Perhaps the only ones happier than the St. Mary’s softball team right now are the ASU softball fans. They can’t wait to get Escobedo to Tempe.