Long ball helps win state titles for softball, baseball teams

It was kind of ironic that Chaparral High School won the Division I state baseball championship last night with a home run.  This was supposed to be the year of the small ball.

Arizona’s high-school baseball teams were required to use bats this season that met a standard performance test to verify that the bat’s impact with the ball will be less lively than in years past.  The new regulations were instituted by the National Federation of State High Schools Association, designed to make the game safer by reducing the velocity of the ball coming off the bat.

But that didn’t seem to make much difference to Dylan Cozens, as he parked a fast ball over the left-center fence at Camelback Ranch in the bottom of the seventh to break a 3-3- tie and give Chaparral the 5-3 win for the title.

Cozens, a right fielder who swings from the left side of the plate, has more home runs this season than any other player in the state.  His game-winner for the title was his 19th – four of which helped propel the Firebirds through the playoffs.

Brophy, too, used the long ball to stay in the game.  The Broncos got their first two runs off of solo home runs by Nick Jewett and Ryan Castellani, who also tripled in the fifth inning and came home for the third score.

So much for less velocity.

Meanwhile at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Sunnyslope High School took a different route to their Division II title win.

The Vikings peppered the Liberty High defense with base hits, racking up four runs in the third inning and then rolling on to a 6-5 victory.

Liberty had a 5-2 lead after the second inning, but couldn’t hold on to it.  And once Sunnyslope took the lead back, its ace relief pitcher, Calvin LeBrun, shut the door.  LeBrun took over the mound duties from Cody Bergkamp after the first inning and allowed one run on six hits to extend his undefeated season to 11-0.

The big-school girls’ teams also wrapped up their title runs, playing Tuesday night at Arizona State’s Farrington Stadium.

Mesa’s Red Mountain High School also brought some heavy wood to the Division I softball championship game, using a home run by Jordan Beck to help build a 4-0 lead before top-seeded Basha High School could even get to the plate.

The Mountain Lions went on to post a 5-2 victory and claim their third straight state championship.

For Chandler representative Basha High, it was an incredibly frustrating night since it marked the second consecutive loss to Red Mountain in the state championship game.

The Red Mountain win also adds a new notation to the Arizona history book, as the school can now claim the first top-division softball team in the state to win three consecutive state titles.

In the Division II final, it was more power at the plate that gave Tucson’s Canyon del Oro High School its sixth state championship in the last eight years with an 11-9 win over Peoria’s Sunrise Mountain High School.

CDO’s senior third baseman Samantha Noland parked a grand slam homer in the fourth inning and teammate Makenzie Sullivan added a solo shot in the seventh.  But it was Kayla Bonstrom, the senior pitcher, that put the Dorados over the top with a two-run homer in the top of the eighth.

Bonstrom capped the win – and the title – by shutting down the Mustang hitters for the final three outs.