High school baseball and softball programs in Arizona still have four weeks left in the 2016 schedule, but a couple of recent tournaments offer some insight into what to expect when state tournament time rolls around.
The Bob Everett Classic brought 25 baseball teams together in Gilbert that included many of the best in the state, while over in Scottsdale, Horizon High was hosting a slate of six baseball teams in the Arizona National Invitational Tournament (ANIT). That list of teams included Hamilton High from Chandler, which had just been ranked by MaxPreps as the No. 2 team in the nation.
And for the girls, the Desert Mountain Invitational in Scottsdale provided top-drawer competition among 19 in-state teams and one that made the trip from Hawaii.
The teams that sign on for these tournaments get plenty of time on the diamond; the Bob Everett runs four days and the Desert Mountain Invite goes five days. A good example is the title game at the Bob Everett, which was the third game that day for both teams.
Hamilton, with its national ranking and undefeated 10-0 record, rolled through its first two games at the ANIT, but then was stunned by Brophy Prep, which buried the Huskies in an 11-1 drubbing. Hamilton was still reeling from tht loss when they lost to Corona del Sol, 9-7, in the semifinals, but managed to exact revenge for the loss to Brophy by beating the Broncos, 4-1, for third place. Canyon del Oro from Tucson, which Hamilton beat in its second game, went on to win the event by beating Corona in the title game, 5-2.
In the Bob Everett, Perry High School pulled out a come-from-behind win for the tourney title, beating Red Mountain High, 16-8. Junior Trevor Hauver and senior Wacy Crenshaw gave Perry the lead right out of the box with a couple of solo homers in the first, but the Mountain Lions came back to score three runs in the bottom of that inning and go on to expand the lead to 8-2 after three.
A six-run burst in the sixth inning, fueled by a grand slam from Hauver, recaptured the lead and the Pumas went on to record the first title in the inaugural event.
Hauver finished with a 3-for-5 performance at the plate and was joined by Crenshaw and teammates Tommy Sacco and Tayt Smith, who also collected three hits. But it was Cody Holtz, the team’s clean-up hitter that led the team effort with four hits. Perry piled up 18 hits in the win.
Meanwhile, the Desert Mountain Invitational in Scottsdale gave Desert Vista a chance to show its dominance on the softball side of the diamond. The Thunder rolled through that annual event, now in its 19th year, by winning all seven games they played on the way to the championship.
A 5-4 win over Hamilton in the semis set Desert Vista up for a meeting in the title game with Pinnacle High School, which beat Tucson’s Sahuaro High, 5-3, in its semifinal game.
Desert Vista’s senior ace, Brooke Hughes, held Pinnacle to just three singles and didn’t allow the lone Pinnacle run until the seventh inning when McKenna Adams poked a single through the infield to score Alex Cook. The 5’10” righty was spot-on with her accuracy, giving up no walks.
But the 1-1 deadlock didn’t last long. In the bottom of the seventh, with bases loaded and two outs, Jill Navarro, delivered again, driving a hard liner the shortstop couldn’t handle to score Mara Kemmer, who had singled to get on base. It was Navarro who delivered in the semifinal game with Hamilton, doubling to score the winning run in that contest.
Kemmer, a senior who is the other half of the mound duo, helped at the plate in this one, contributing three hits.
Desert Vista didn’t let up after finishing the tournament. The Thunder beat Gilbert High Thursday night in a 6-0 road win that made it nine straight wins and runs their record to 14-2.