By ED PETRUSKA Contributing Writer-Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK — Redemption for the Central Arizona College softball team came in the form of a seventh-inning RBI single by Ariday Lopez that allowed the Vaqueras to escape with a 4-3 victory over Mesa in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader.
The Thunderbirds scored four runs in the top of the seventh of the opener to pull out a 6-3 win, and were in position for another big comeback when they tied Game 2 with a two-run homer in the seventh. But Central responded in quick fashion to gain the split.
Makiya Thomas led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk, stole second and continued to third on a throwing error by the catcher. Lopez then lined a pitch up the middle to end it.
"I was happy with the (Game 2) win but was unsatisfied on the day," CAC coach Shelby Davis said. "We have to do better, be better, than we are right now."
The Vaqueras are 19-8 overall and 12-6 in Arizona Community College Athletic Conference play. All four of their ACCAC splits have come against Division II teams.
"We're letting (teams) hang around, and that's been a struggle for us all season," Davis said. "When we jump out to a lead, we're not closing games out."
She said the Vaqueras have to do a better job "of fine-tuning and paying attention to all the little details."
They owned leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the opener and 3-0 in Game 2 and finished with 10 hits in each, but wound up stranding five runners in scoring position in both outings.
Sonia Solis and Michaela Kittredge had run-scoring singles off Samantha Quezada in the second inning to give CAC a 2-0 lead in the second game. A sacrifice fly by Danielle Farinas in the third made it 3-0.
Mesa (12-12, 8-12 ACCAC) got one back in the fifth on Brittany Walkingstick's RBI double and tied it in the seventh on a one-out homer by Walkingstick, who went 3 for 4.
Central pitcher Trinity Valentine allowed eight hits. She struck out six, walked two and hit two.
Lopez, Solis and Kittredge each had two hits for the Vaqueras, who left runners at second and third in the third and sixth innings and a runner at third in the fourth.
The Thunderbirds sent 10 batters to the plate against Baylee Eaton in the seventh inning of the opener. The first four reached, with an RBI double by Walkingstick making it 3-3 before Mesa went ahead to stay on Alexis Cireol's run-scoring single. The last two runs scored on a hit batter with the bases loaded and a fielder's choice bunt.
Central took a 2-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by Lopez and Evelyn Roman's run-scoring double.
The Thunderbirds tied it in the second when Kaycee Williams scored on an error and Jodi Taylor came home on a wild pitch.
The Vaqueras regained the lead on Aliya Ewell's two-out RBI single off Jadin Placencio in the third.
Eaton gave up eight hits, struck out nine, walked five and hit one.
Thomas, the ACCAC Division I player of the week for March 4-9, went 3 for 4 and scored two runs. Roman and Farinas both had two hits for Central. The Vaqueras stranded a runner at third base in the first and sixth innings and one at second base in the second, third and fifth.