Neither softball or baseball offered any real surprises at the high school state 5A-I championship games. But there were some interesting story lines on both sides.
At the Rose Mofford Sports Complex, Red Mountain High School (Mesa) and Basha High School (Chandler) met in the softball championship game. No big surprise there. One or the other school has won the state title in four of the last five years.
Red Mountain took this one, 5-4, but the Mountain Lions had to do it by coming up through the elimination bracket – and then digging out of a hole in the final game.
At Camelback Ranch Stadium, the baseball championship went to a school that has never won a state title – and it had to go extra innings against a region rival to accomplish it this year.
Mountain Pointe High School (Phoenix), which has been an offensive powerhouse all season enroute to compiling a 28-5 record, won its first school state title by beating perennial title contender Hamilton High School, 7-6, in the eighth inning when Jordan Kipper‘s single to left scored Sam Kingery from third for the win.
Hamilton has added three baseball state championships to its trophy case in the past eight years, while also finishing as runner-up three other times.
But this year it was Mountain Pointe’s turn.
The Pride broke the state home-run team record this year, the one it set just last year with 60 when it got as far as the state title game before losing to Desert Ridge HS.
They were averaging nearly 12 runs a game coming into the playoffs – and got their revenge on Desert Ridge by beating them soundly in the semifinals, 14-2, in a game that went just five innings.
Leading the home-run assault for The Pride is Kevin Cron, Arizona’s all-time career leader in home runs. The 6’4″, 250-pound senior who has committed to play next year at Texas Christian was 12-for-18 at the plate in post-season play.
The softball championship game didn’t go into extra innings. Red Mountain saw to that, scoring four runs in the fourth inning to come from behind for a 5-4 win over Basha to win their third state title in six years.
The Lions had enough of the extra-inning drama last year, when they went into extra innings before snatching the title from Basha. This year, the Bears won the Central Region and enjoyed a 14-game winning streak in the process.
The fact that the Lions found themselves in a 3-0 hole in this year’s title game before exploding for four runs, is nothing new. They have had a lot of experience this year pulling out wins after falling behind.
Their trips to the state championship games have also been made the hard way. Four times in the last six years, Red Mountain has had to work its way up through the elimination bracket to get to the state final.
Basha put the pressure on them early this year, taking a 3-0 lead after just two innings. But Siera Phillips stepped up in the fourth and drove home three runs with a triple down the first-base line, and then came home on a Bri Gonzales ground-out.
This year again belongs to Red Mountain. But a three-peat won’t be easy… Basha graduates just two seniors.