Red Mountain HS softball adds national title to 4 state titles

<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons above -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2013/06/red-mountain-hs-softball-adds-national-title-to-4-state-titles/' addthis:title='Red Mountain HS softball adds national title to 4 state titles'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>Just two years after the St. Mary’s High School girls basketball team was recognized as the No. 1 team in the nation, another Arizona girls program takes a bow as […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2013/06/red-mountain-hs-softball-adds-national-title-to-4-state-titles/' addthis:title='Red Mountain HS softball adds national title to 4 state titles'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>

Just two years after the St. Mary’s High School girls basketball team was recognized as the No. 1 team in the nation, another Arizona girls program takes a bow as the country’s best.

And sets up a good-news/bad-news scenario.

The “good news” is that the entire state gets to share some of the spotlight that comes from the announcement that Mesa’s Red Mountain High School finished the 2013 season atop the Student Sports’ final FAB 50 national rankings, just released.  Six Arizona high school teams made the list of 50, including two from Scottsdale and two from Mesa.

That list includes No. 1 Red Mountain; Sunrise Mountain High School, the reigning Division II state champion  from Peoria at No. 5; Glendale’s Mountain Ridge High School (13); Scottsdale’s Chaparral High (29); Mesa’s Mountain View High School (38); and Scottsdale’s Horizon High (41).  Valerie Kaff, the Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year, wrapped up her final season at Mountain View and will be playing next year at Michigan State.

But it was the Mountain Lions from Red Mountain that stood out from the rest of the pack – and for good reason.

The Lady Lions wrapped their regular season with 15 straight wins and then rolled undefeated through the state playoffs, outscoring opponents 27-6 in four games and beating two other FAB 50 teams on the way to their fourth straight big-school state title.  They beat Chaparral twice, including the championship game victory, and Mountain View in the quarterfinals.

They compiled a 33-5 overall record, their fourth straight 30-win season under head coach Rich Hamilton, with a solid pitching staff and lots of power at the plate.  The 2013 edition had a .389 batting average and a .453 on-base percentage, while the pitching staff posted a collective 1.99 ERA.

Breana Macha, the tall, lanky right-hander who is already a member of Arizona State‘s recruiting class of 2014, carried the majority of the pitching load, finishing with a 19-4 mark and a 2.23 ERA over 151 innings.  Marian Ruf provided the 1-2 punch by hurling nine wins in 10 outings and posting a 1.42 ERA in 64 innings.

A consistent offensive display of power was balanced with solid defensive work.  They hit 331 runs while holding opponents to 108, and smacked 438 hits, which more than doubled those of the opposition (201).

A total of 47 home runs powered many of the wins, with Jordan Beck leading the way with 10 and Alyssa Fernandez right behind with nine.  There were 16 games interspersed throughout the schedule that had multiple home runs, including the state championship game when the Lions got big blasts from Beck, the senior-to-be catcher, and senior-to-be Savannah Kirkpatrick, a versatile outfielder/infielder who played in all but three games.  Kirkpatrick contributed nine doubles among her 25 hits on the season, but the homer in the title game was just her second of the year.

It was definitely a team effort throughout the season, though, as five players hit over .400: Beck (.474), Kyla VanBeekum (.471), Alexandra Wiley (.471), Victoria Sotelo (.464) and Ruf (.421).

Which leads us to the “bad news” part of this story…

All five of those leading hitters will be back next year – and that’s got to be terrible news for the rest of the coaches in Division I (not to mention the pitchers).  VanBeekum, Wiley, and Sotelo will be juniors.  So they’ll be around for a couple more years.  Beck and Ruf have another year.

And the pitching staff… yep, they’ll be back, too.  Both Macha and Ruf will be seasoned seniors.

That means Red Mountain will undoubtedly be favored to win yet another state title in 2014 – and may even pocket another national crown.  That’s certainly not something the other teams in Division I want to think about as they contemplate getting ready for the 2014 season.

Sometimes, reality sucks.