And the nightmares continue.
The Hamilton High School baseball program has become Mesquite High‘s worst nightmare. And Red Mountain High School has become a recurring bad dream for every other softball team in Division I.
Mesquite had hoped to exact revenge for its loss to Hamilton in the 2008 Division I state championship game. But their second title-game loss to the Huskies yesterday stung even more than the first, since the Wildcats dropped the first one by just one run. This time, top-seeded Hamilton, which has lost just three games all season and was heavily favored, piled up 12 hits to coast to a 8-4 victory for the D-I title.
The No. 8-seeded Mesquite (23-12) was active at the plate, but it was too little, too late. Their one run per inning for the last four frames wasn’t nearly enough to overcome the 7-0 hole they were in after the third inning when the Huskies went on a five-run tear in the bottom of that inning.
Ryan Nolcheff contributed a 4-for-4 night at the plate for Hamilton, while junior Zach Pederson and senior Kent Hasler shared the pitching duties. Pederson went five innings, allowing five hits and striking out four, and Hasler took the mound for the final two innings to shut the door on the win and claim the school’s fourth baseball state title.
But you can save your sympathy for Mesquite and pour it on all the Division I coaches on the girls’ side of the game that have been trying to take the state crown away from Red Mountain High School for the last five years.
And they’ll still be trying next season. The Mountain Lions from Mesa set a state record Monday when they won their fifth straight state championship by beating Glendale’s Mountain Ridge High School, 8-1, in a game that was decided early. By the time Mountain Ridge could get a run on the scoreboard, Bre Macha had already pitched Red Mountain to an 8-0 lead.
Macha, a senior who pitched her school to a state championship in all four years there, carried this title win for the first six innings, scattering seven hits and striking out five – and then contributed a 1-for-3 evening at the plate. She’s headed for ASU next year.
And the coach that has been at the helm of the program for all five championships is Rich Hamilton, who just earned his spot among the legends of the high-school game. Red Mountain has accumulated six state titles over the past decade.
Until yesterday, they were tied with four other Arizona schools that had won four consecutive state titles. But now they stand alone – and likely will for some time to come.
And in Division II play, the Ironwood Ridge High School softball team did manage to exorcise its demons. After losing in the championship game two of the three previous years, the Nighthawks brought home the hardware Monday night with a 2-1 victory over Canyon del Oro High School – an especially sweet win since both schools reside in Oro Valley (Tucson) and are regular-season rivals.
The Ridge picked up its first run in the bottom of the second when a bases-loaded walk scored a run. But the insurance run came in the third when the senior catcher, Robyn Porter, smacked a single to push home Reyna Bondi, who had singled to open the inning.
Emily Robinson earned the complete-game victory, allowing five hits and one unearned run.
On the boys’ side, top-seeded Greenway High School easily dispatched No. 4 seed Nogales High after jumping out to an early lead, thanks to a five-hit, five-run second inning. The explosion was fueled by a Payton Squier double that caromed off the outfield fence and enabled two runners to score.
Nogales, which closes out a 30-win season, used five different pitchers to try to contain Greenway, but it wasn’t enough. The Demons, on the other hand, needed just one. Tyler Frost gave up five hits and fanned eight batters, but was so consistent that he gave up no walks – despite throwing with a swollen middle finger from an injury sustained against Sahuaro High in the semi-final game.
Frost, who will play at Gonzaga next year, wraps his senior year with a 12-1 record and 0.26 ERA.