- By ED PETRUSKA Contributing Writer Pinal Central/Casa Grande Dispatch
SIGNAL PEAK — The season is off to a rocky start for the Central Arizona College softball team.
After going 2-3 with three run-rule losses in Henderson, Nevada, over the weekend, the Vaqueras had to settle for a disappointing doubleheader split with Division II Chandler-Gilbert in their Arizona Community College Athletic Conference opener on Tuesday.
Central clobbered the Coyotes 10-0 in the five-inning opener at CAC Field. Chandler-Gilbert led 9-0 in Game 2 before prevailing 9-3.
A lack of discipline is the major reason why her team — ranked No. 4 in the NJCAA preseason poll — has been so puzzlingly inconsistent, CAC coach Shelby Davis said.
"I'm really surprised," she said. "When you come out and run-rule a team, the expectation has to be that you'll do it again. It's too long of a season for it to be a roller coaster all year. We have to beat everybody we're supposed to beat."
Especially teams like Chandler-Gilbert, which went 5-43 last season.
The Vaqueras (3-4, 1-1 ACCAC) scored seven runs in the second inning of the opener. Kyrstan Garcia pitched a three-hitter, striking out three and walking one.
Chandler-Gilbert turned the tables in Game 2, shocking Central with a seven-run second.
"We kind of gave up after that," Davis said. "We were kind of going through the motions."
The Vaqueras avoided the embarrassment of being run-ruled by scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning after being down to their last strike three times.
"If we had been a little more disciplined at the plate earlier, we would have given ourselves a chance," Davis said. "We didn't have very good at-bats."
Not being run-ruled did have its consequences, as things turned out. Shortstop Jessenia Miranda injured her shoulder — possibly dislocating it — while diving for a meaningless sixth-inning single by the Coyotes.
"Hopefully she won't be out for too long," Davis said.
Thomas tripled with one out in the first to put the Vaqueras on the board and scored on Ewell's single.
Central sent 11 batters to the plate in the second inning, getting a two-run double from Miranda following consecutive bases-loaded walks to Ashleigh Withers, Katelyn Duilio and Thomas. Ewell's sacrifice fly made it 8-0 and Besaw's RBI single capped the rally.
Ewell had a run-scoring triple in the fourth.
The only hits off Garcia were Maci Richardson's one-out double in the second and singles by Tyra Craig in the second and Monique Noriega in the third.
The Coyotes (1-1, 1-1 ACCAC) sent 11 batters to the plate in the second inning of Game 2. Among their six hits were two-run doubles by Noriega and Andrea Hernandez. They also capitalized on a walk, an error and a hit batter.
Chandler-Gilbert amassed 16 hits, getting RBI singles from Vanessa Medellin, Elena Palacios, Richardson and Mia Venegas.
Thomas singled on a 1-2 pitch with two outs and nobody aboard in the Central fifth. She took second on a wild pitch and came around when Garcia singled on a 1-2 pitch. After Ewell drew a walk, Miranda delivered an RBI single on a 1-2 offering from Chandler-Gilbert starter Casey Beemiller.
Karlee White pitched the final 2 1/3 innings for the Coyotes, giving up a two-out RBI single by Duilio in the sixth.
Withers, Duilio and Thomas each had two of CAC's nine hits.