Now that we’re beginning the descent down the back side of the high school baseball and softball schedules, it’s a good time to take note of the various tournaments popping up around the state. By now, teams have settled into their pitching rotations and made the necessary adjustments on the field as they begin the march toward the playoffs.
The Desert Mountain Softball Invitational, now in its 20th year, offered perhaps the most competitive field of teams among those tourneys played over the weekend and topped the action off with a match-up of two of the state’s top teams.
That tournament title game between undefeated Pinnacle High School and Hamilton High wasn’t decided until the seventh inning, when an infield grounder got away from Pinnacle third baseman Kris Slayton and allowed the game’s first and only run to score.
And that final inning held all the drama of a contest between top teams. There were two outs in the seventh and two strikes against Abby Anderson when she slashed that game-winning ground ball.
The 1-0 victory was particularly sweet for Hamilton since the Huskies’ only loss this season to an in-state team had been to Pinnacle in a March 3 game that went 11 innings.
Hamilton, now 16-3 on the season, lost twice to Cali teams during the Tournament of Champions in California two weeks ago.
Pinnacle is now 18-1 after taking out their frustration this week by piling on Desert Ridge High School in a 12-0 win Tuesday.
Fans who came hoping for a lot of big hitting in the Desert Mountain championship game may have been disappointed, but it was an interesting pitching duel between two of the better throwers in the state’s top division. CC Cook went the full seven innings for Pinnacle and Hamilton also left its starter, Madison Seigworth, in the circle all the way to the win.
Seigworth struck out 10 and allowed just four hits, while Cook posted six K’s and four hits. All eight hits in the game were singles.
Pinnacle’s strength this year comes from a one-two punch in the circle. Seigworth, a senior, is 7-1 with a 0.50 ERA, but her partner in pitching, junior Marissa Schuld, is 11-0 with an ERA of 0.23. In an earlier game in the tourney, Schuld pitched a no-hitter against Basha High, striking out 18 in six innings of work.
Cook and Schuld are also two of the top three on the team in batting averages, Schuld at .444 and Cook hitting .417.
Other weekend tournaments…
The Bob Everett Baseball Classic at Highland High School in Gilbert also featured an unbeaten team in the finals. Queen Creek High School, 14-0 at the time, beat Campo Verde High, 8-7, in the tourney final. Each team had managed to roll through the tournament undefeated, but Queen Creek was able to squeeze out the one-run victory by using four pitchers against Campo. Danny Marshall got the win.
Junior Camden Vasquez stroked a two-run triple and added another RBI while going 2-for-2 at the plate in Campo’s losing effort. Queen Creek had two players that contributed three hits apiece, senior Haiden Hendricks and junior Colton Cassenlli.
Queen Creek made it through the Bob Everett with its undefeated record intact, but Chaparral High ruined the perfect mark a couple of days later by beating the Bulldogs, 9-7.
In Tucson, Scottsdale’s Saguaro High School won four games in the Salpointe Lancer Baseball Classic, but couldn’t put together one last victory in the title game. A team from Enid High School in Oklahoma used a big rally in the fourth inning to take a 5-1 lead and then held the Sabercats at arm’s length the rest of the way for the 8-4 championship win.
Rhett Holmes, Saguaro’s senior catcher, led the Sabercats’ offense in the title game, collecting three hits on the night that included a triple. Saguaro’s senior first baseman Matthew Noriega and junior shortstop Nick Barendrick each enjoyed a 2-for-4 night.