If it feels like you’ve seen this sports movie before, it’s because you have. Last year, about this same time.
That’s when Hamilton High School swept the 6A baseball and softball state titles, the fifth for the boys and the first-ever softball title for the girls. Yesterday, the Huskies’ baseball team wrapped up its repeat performance, just a day after the softball team also claimed its second straight.
For Pinnacle High School, it turned out to be another season of frustration. Last year, the Hamilton softball team beat Pinnacle in the title game. This year, both of the losers were Pinnacle teams.
No. 10-seeded Hamilton baseball beat No. 8 Pinnacle, 6-4, and No. 7 softball upset top-ranked Pinnacle, 7-2.
But little could match the disappointment felt by the baseball loss to Hamilton more than that of Pinnacle’s head coach, Roy Muller. After four decades of coaching, this was Muller’s first time in a state championship game. After a career that began in 1976 at Paradise Valley High School, he just finished up his second season at Pinnacle and knew he had his best chance to get that ring.
In the other dugout, Mike Woods is a seasoned veteran of title games. The Hamilton head coach has filled the Chandler school’s trophy case with hardware from six title wins since 2003. And two other years, his teams were runners-up.
The Huskies (23-10) are usually a dangerous team at the plate. They averaged six runs a game throughout the season and opened playoffs with a 13-0 romp over No. 7 Sunnyside High. But Pinnacle did all it could to help them to the six runs needed for the title, giving up two runs on throwing errors and a third on a wild pitch. Hamilton managed just five hits.
Pinnacle put up nine hits, with CJ Schauwecker and James Wicker each contributing two of those hits.
Cole Bellinger, a senior who beat Mountain Ridge High in last year’s title game, pitched 6 2/3 innings for this championship before running up against pitch limits. Drew Swift came on to wrap up the final out.
Hamilton’s softball team also put this year’s title game in the hands of someone who had been there before. Junior Madison Seigworth, who compiled an 11-3 record and 1.92 ERA this season, was the pitcher who beat Pinnacle for last year’s championship.
Seigworth scattered seven hits as she worked the entire game, and struck out 12, to contain Pinnacle, a top-5 nationally-ranked team that had won 17 straight games. The Pioneers’ two runs came in a wild sixth inning that saw both teams unload at the plate, with Pinnacle using three hits to collect a pair of runs and Hamilton leading off its half with a home run by Macy Simmons en route to putting four runs on the board. Seigworth and Taylor Gindlesperger piled on with a double from each.
Hamilton split a pair of games with Pinnacle earlier in the season and apparently found the secret to dealing with Pinnacle ace, Marissa Schuld, who came into the playoffs undefeated (22-0) and boasting a 0.56 ERA. Schuld started in the circle and lasted until the seventh inning, when she handed the ball over to CC Cook, another lethal weapon for the Pioneers.
Schuld allowed five runs on nine hits during her six innings of work.
But Cook, a senior who finished the season 12-1 with a 0.88 ERA, had no better luck containing the Hamilton hitters. Lorena Vasquez-Inzunza parked a two-run homer over the left-field fence to top off the Huskies’ scoring.