A team begins to develop an air of invincibility after it has won 18 straight games.
Maybe so, but the Mesquite High School softball team wasn’t buying any of that Tuesday afternoon.
The Wildcats put an end to Arcadia High‘s streak in impressive fashion, holding the high-flying Titans to a single run and pouring cold water on their hopes for a Division II section III title. That game brought both teams to a 7-1 mark in section play, so Mesquite would win out if there is still a tie after the final two games because of its win over Arcadia.
Mesquite has done a good job of recovering from a disappointing start to the season when it lost three and tied one of the first five games on the schedule. The Wildcats are now 15-8 and have won five of their last seven games; the Arcadia win makes it three in a row.
The fact that they held Arcadia to a single run, which came off the bat of Morgan Ash who homered in the fourth inning, is surprising since Skyline High hung 11 runs on them in the previous game. It took two big innings – six runs in the third and five more in the sixth – to squeeze past Skyline for the 12-11 victory.
Kaitlyn Carter went 4-for-4 and scored three runs in that contest, and then came back in the Arcadia game to break a 1-1 deadlock with a double that pushed home Mesquite’s second run in the sixth, and then scored herself for the final run of the game for the 3-1 win. Mesquite had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth, but Ash’s home run tied things up.
But, for the most part, the pitching kept the scoring in check. Mesquite’s Taylor Cullen and Arcadia’s Emily Ingles both gave up four scattered hits, but Cullen relied more on her defense, while Ingles used nine strikeouts to keep things under control.
Ingles, a powerful right-hander, is 26-4 with a .57 ERA. The senior averages eight strikeouts a game, so her performance against Mesquite was just another day at the office.
A couple of weeks ago, Ingles posted 16 strikeouts in a game against Cactus Shadows High School, just to illustrate how she can dominate a game. She now has 256 Ks on the season.
Cullen’s stats aren’t as gaudy; she’s 15-8 and has a 3.26 ERA. But she has been golden in sectional play, winning nine of her 10 games against section opponents.
If any team was going to beat Arcadia before the season wrapped, Mesquite would have been a likely pick. Head coach Gloria Hernandez has really turned the program around in her four seasons at the helm. She took over a team that had just eight wins in the 2011-12 season and has gradually built from a 4-27 record her first year into a title contender, finishing 23-8 last season and in the driver’s seat for the section title this year.
Mesquite is back on the field tonight when they host Williams Field High School. But Arcadia took out the frustration of Tuesday’s loss with a 12-1 pounding of McClintock High yesterday.
The Titans have just two games left, but the first of those is Salpointe Catholic, a top-10 team in the power rankings with just four losses this season. Regardless of what happens against Salpointe, they will be favored in the regular-season finale against Westwood High (14-11).
Mesquite has three games left, including tonight’s against Williams Field, but all three are against sub-.500 teams.
Movin’ on to the playoffs…