Vaqueras ride falls short in finals
By ED PETRUSKA, Contributing Writer May 8, 2018 (0)
SIGNAL PEAK — As the No. 4 seed in the four-team Division I Region 1 softball playoffs, Central Arizona College was not expected to challenge for the tournament title.
The Vaqueras rebounded nicely from Friday's opening-round 8-0 loss to host Yavapai, however, racking up two straight upset wins in Prescott before falling 8-6 to second-seeded Eastern Arizona in Saturday's championship round.
Central (38-25) stayed alive in the region tourney with an 11-3 victory over third-seeded Arizona Western (40-21) on Friday. That game ended after five innings under the eight-run rule. Then came Saturday's 3-2 win over top-seeded Yavapai (50-12), which had run-ruled CAC in the first round.
But the Vaqueras were unable to force a winner-take-all game against Eastern (52-10), which advanced to the NJCAA Tournament.
"We took a beating in the first game, but the girls found it within themselves to pull it together," CAC coach Shelby Davis said. "We scored right away (against Western) and that kind of lit a fire."
The Vaqueras compiled 14 hits against the Matadors and took advantage of four errors to score seven unearned runs. Central put up five runs in the second inning and four in the fifth, along with single runs in the first and third.
The momentum from that win carried over into Saturday.
"We had energy and confidence," Davis said.
Kyrstan Garcia held Yavapai to four hits in Saturday's elimination game, striking out four and walking three.
"KG was lights out," Davis said. "She's proven to be our ace the last two years, and she stepped up big."
The Vaqueras took a 3-0 lead in the third. Makiya Thomas drove in two runs with a double and came around on Garcia's single. The Roughriders scored two in the sixth.
The Gila Monsters went 4-0 against CAC during the regular season, run-ruling the Vaqueras twice and outscoring them 38-7. Eastern was up 5-0 on Saturday until Central went ahead 6-5 by scoring three runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth.
But the Gila Monsters answered with three unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Eastern had 10 hits, four of which were home runs.
The Gila Monsters, ranked No. 9 in the final NJCAA poll, blanked both of their opponents on Friday, defeating Western 3-0 and Yavapai 10-0. Eastern finished one game behind the Roughriders in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference standings and 12 ahead of CAC.
Central, which won the region title last season for the first time since 2005, overtook Pima to clinch the final postseason spot by a two-game margin. The Vaqueras began ACCAC play with a 5-9 record but had a 23-11 finish against conference opponents, including a seven-game winning streak prior to a loss in the regular-season finale.