The Basha High softball team is doing it the hard way, but the Bears are getting it done. They have just one more hurdle to get to the Division I state title game.
After being upset in the second round of the state tournament by Mountain Ridge High School, the No. 1-seeded Basha has won two games in the consolation bracket and now will have a second chance to try to beat Mountain Ridge tomorrow night to earn the right to meet Red Mountain High School in Monday’s championship game.
Red Mountain (34-3) is the No. 2 seed in the tourney. The Mountain Lions have had to play just two games, beating Scottsdale neighbor, Horizon High School, 2-1, and then Mountain Ridge, 4-3.
There were very few high school softball fans who didn’t expect Basha and Red Mountain to meet for the title, but now Basha would have to take on Red Mountain after playing twice as many games – if they even get to the title game.
And that means twice as many innings for the Basha pitchers.
Fortunately for the Bears, they have two strong hurlers to call up as needed, although senior Kailey Regester has been able to carry the load through the tournament. But the sophomore, Lynea Klemmedson, has made her share of appearances this season and, in fact, has a slightly better ERA than the senior; both are sub-2.0.
Red Mountain counters with Breana Macha and Siera Phillips. The senior Phillips shares the mound time with her sophomore teammate, each getting pretty much the same time in the circle. Both boast sub-2.0 ERAs, with the edge going to the younger Macha’s 1.19. Phillips isn’t far off at 1.40.
But before the two get a chance to square off, Basha needs to get past Mountain Ridge, the surprising No. 5 seed.
The Glendale school, which also uses the mountain lion as its mascot, pulled one of the bigger upsets of the tournament when it beat No. 4 Gilbert High School in the first game, dropping one of the tournament favorites to the consolation bracket, where they lost again to No. 8 Centennial High.
After knocking off Gilbert, which had lost just five games all season heading into the playoffs, Mountain Ridge blanked the No. 1 Basha, 6-0, before being stopped by Red Mountain, 4-3, yesterday.
Red Mountain had to pull out one of its patented come-from-behind wins to get past Mountain Ridge last night. Red Mountain was down to its final out in the final inning before scoring a pair of runs and pushing the game into an eighth inning. With bases loaded, Haley Culley punched out the game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth.
Basha got its win by jumping out to a 5-0 lead against No. 6 Horizon, fueled by a grand slam home run in the bottom of the third by sophomore shortstop, Hailey Maher. A double by Margaret Stahm in the sixth inning led a come-back effort by Horizon, but it fell short in the 5-3 loss.
Basha and Mountain Ridge meet tomorrow night in a 7:30 pm game at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex, wtih the winner to take on Red Mountain Monday night at Arizona State’s Farrington Stadium.
If Basha and Red Mountain wind up in the finals, it might be interesting to take a look back into the regular season, when the two teams met in late March.
Red Mountain won that one, 12-10. But the stakes will be much higher this time.