Earlier this month, the Salt River High School softball team competed in the Metro East regional tournament, and despite earning early leads in two critical games, they finished fourth.
Head coach Lynnann Yazzie said the team learned from each experience.
“We had a great start to both games, jumping ahead 5-0 against Fort Thomas and 12-0 against Veritas,” she said. “Unfortunately, we were unable to maintain those leads throughout either game, mostly due to pitching issues. We can definitely score runs and we can play great defense, but we have to also get the other team to swing the bat. I do not believe we were ever really out of either game, because we had chances until the very end of each game to get the win, but we couldn’t quite pull it out.”
This is the second year Metro East has held a regional tournament. Yazzie said in previous years the teams were seeded for the state tournament based on their conference record during the regular season.
“If this were still the case, we would have been seeded No. 1 in the state tournament because we did win the conference title for the regular season. However, this is not the case since teams are now seeded based on the results of the regional tournament,” she explained.
There was a three-way tie heading into the Metro East regional tournament, and Yazzie said her team played differently in each game.
“The difference between the three-way tie-breaker and the regional tournament was like day and night. The girls played incredibly well in the tie-breaker, with heart and determination, but we were unable to carry that enthusiasm into the tournament,” she said.
She said she thinks the girls may have been a bit worn out by the time the tournament came around after playing five games in four days. There were six days between the final tournament game and the start of state.
Yazzie said she hopes the girls will continue to encourage each other in a positive manner on and off the field. She said the team will rely on the leadership of juniors and seniors for guidance.
“Our strongest attribute as a team is that [the players] never give up,” Yazzie said. “They play hard to the very last pitch, and as long as the girls continue to play hard, their chances to perform well increase tremendously.”
1A State Tournament
The Salt River Lady Eagles entered the 1A state tournament as the No. 4 seed out of the Metro East region and met No. 1-ranked Mogollon out of the North region on May 6 at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix.
Salt River was the visiting team and the first to bat in the game. Kierstan Timmons started off the game with a walk and eventually scored on an RBI by Eunicia Hayes. The Lady Eagles led at the end of the first inning 1-0, but Mogollon scored 13 runs on eight hits with one error committed by Salt River to create a gap that was too much for the Lady Eagles to make up. Salt River added four additional runs to Mogollon’s three, but it wasn’t enough as they fell 16-5 in five innings of play.