West Valley View, Avondale, Arizona, Friday, March 30, 2012
Verrado tops Millennium in seesaw battle
by Casey Pritchard assistant sports editor
Verrado is enjoying its best softball season to date, and the Lady Vipers are figuring out different ways to win ballgames. Wednesday night was one of those occasions, as Verrado came from behind, then
squandered a pair of leads only to score four times in the ninth-
inning and beat Millennium in extras, 10-6. Verrado (15-5) got three of its four runs in the ninth on a Morgan Brown home run. It was the Lady Vipers’ second long ball of the game.
we have had some timely home runs in tournament play, but nothing of this magnitude in a game of this nature,” Verrado coach Rich Stringer said. “This is a big win for the program. We’ve been working really hard for the last three years to make this a viable program, not just a spring sport. We finally have a group of young ladies that have bought in to what we’re trying to teach and they’re all in. It’s one team and they go out and work hard. It’s a great win for the program.” Brown’s blast over the center-field fence
didn’t end up being the game-winning hit, as Kaylah Hampton doubled in a run right before her to make it 7-6, but the long ball gave Verrado a nice cushion after what was a tight, back-and-forth contest all night. “I couldn’t believe that I hit it out,”
“The team has a lot of power, and
center field. “I was just looking to see that ball,” Hampton said. “I made a couple adjustments and it worked out for me at the end.” Millennium responded in the home-half
of the fifth to tie the game at 4-4, but it had a glorious chance to take the lead and couldn’t come through with the big hit. After a walk to Kallie Christman and a pair of singles, one by Sedona Velarde and a bunt hit by Kylie Christman, a passed ball scored Kallie and put runners on second and third with nobody out. However, Brown got Corrine Loncar to pop out to second, Angelique Eleman to fly out to shallow left-center and then struck out Jasmine Ramirez, ending the threat. “That was a rough inning, we had some missed opportunities there,” Johns said. “It hurts us, it’s going to hurt us in any game, but that’s the way the game goes.” “[Brown] has got character,” Stringer said of his pitcher. “She gets tough when she needs to and we continue to encourage her and she worked her way out of it, trusted her defense and we made a couple plays for her.” Verrado would retake the lead in the top of the sixth, as RBI doubles from Stephanie Pinson and Sierra Smith plated two runs to amke it 6-4. Smith’s hit was her third of four on the night, as the Lady Vipers’ leadoff hitter had two doubles and two singles, drew a walk and scored three runs.
“She was throwing me outside corner, inside corner, and inside, I can hit that pitch pretty good,” Smith said. “I feel like if I lead off with a hit it carries the rest of the team.”
Brown said. “I was just looking for my pitch and she gave it to me. It was right there, low, I just took advantage.” Shea Smith picked up the pitching win in relief, throwing two scoreless innings while allowing just one hit. She cleaned it up for Brown, who went the first seven and gave up six runs, four earned, on six hits while striking out seven. “We have five pitchers so I went ahead and brought in another one of our pitchers we think highly of, another freshman, and Shea came in and did a great job,” Stringer said.
On the other side, Kallie Christman went the entire nine-inning distance for Millennium (12-9), throwing 151 pitches in a losing effort. Nine of the 10 runs against her were earned, as she allowed 11 hits and walked four, while striking out nine. “We were short a couple pitchers for injuries,” Millennium coach Randi Johns said. “Kallie pitched well, but what can you expect after nine innings. Full staff, maybe it’s a little bit different ball game, but.” Millennium led just one time, scoring three in the first inning to go ahead 3-0. Kylie Christman got things going with a one-out solo home run to left, and it seemed to rattle the starter Brown, who would give up two more hits in the inning, including a two-run single to Arianna Garcia.
“I got a little bit nervous I guess, the score was getting to me, but I knew my team would back me up and be there for me,” Brown said. The Lady Tigers held their advantage, 3-1, until the fourth. That’s when Verrado’s bats finally came alive, as it scored three times, once on a Smith ground out and then the big blow was a Hampton two-run homer to left-
Short-lived lead Verrado’s lead was short-lived this time, as in the bottom of the frame Alex Frausto drew a one-out walk and Stephanie Castro crushed a full-count pitch to left-center field, tying the game at 6-6. “That’s awesome, especially to see a senior step up like that, it gets you [in the heart],” Johns said. “I thought at that point, I said to myself, we have this. Unfortunately they’re a fighting team, they didn’t give up, we didn’t give up, in the end it just was not in our favor.” Millennium never threatened again, as it went down in order in the seventh, had a two-out single from Frausto in the eighth that was erased, and failed to get a base runner in the ninth. The win was Verrado’s fifth in a row and helped catapult the Lady Vipers to second in the Division II power rankings, as they’re 8-1 in those contests. “This is huge for us,” Hampton said.
“We came in knowing we were going to win, but just to do it, to execute it, is huge for us. I think it’s going to set a tone for the rest of the season.” Millennium was led by Kylie Christman, who had two hits. Hampton and Brown both finished
2-for-5 with three RBI, as each clubbed a big home run for the Lady Vipers. Smith’s four hits led the club. “A win like this is just huge because we
showed so much character,” Stringer said. “We were down, we battled, we never gave up, and then we went ahead, and you know how emotions can really swing, it was back and forth. It was a total team effort and meant a lot to the program, and it will hopefully keep the momentum going for us as we move into the second half of the season.”
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View photo by Ray Thomas
MORGAN BROWN pitches against Millennium Wednesday night. Brown threw the first seven innings and did not figure in the decision, but her three-run home run helped the Lady Vipers win 10-6 in nine innings.
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Teen Driving School Saturday, April 14th
Team Safety Driving School (TSDS) is holding a Teen Driving school at Arizona Motorsports Park’s driving pad, (not on the racetrack)
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