Canyon Del Oro and Ironwood Ridge met for the state title on Monday, adding more drama to their already heated rivalry. The teams split their two previous meetings this season. CDO won their regular season meeting, while Ironwood Ridge won their earlier playoff match-up.
CDO used one big inning and a solid pitching effort to get past Cactus 9-0 and get into the championship game.
The Dorados scored seven in the sixth inning to break the contest wide open and put too big a distance between the two teams. Rebecca Ziegler blasted a grand slam during the seven-run inning to leave no doubt for CDO. Already leading 4-0 Ziegler’s home run put an exclamation point on the day. They added one more run in the inning.
Neither team scored until the fourth when CDO took advantage of a sloppy double-play attempt that led to an error. All told the Cobras committed four errors and only surrendered seven hits.
Gabrielle Blevins got the win for CDO, combining with Randi Longville on the shut-out.
Two days earlier Ironwood Ridge beat that same Glendale Cactus team 6-0 on to advance to their second straight title game.
Pitcher Emily Robinson pitched another gem. After struggling early on in her opening postseason game against Tucson High, Robinson has been dominant. She worked out of a first inning jam and then cruised to the shutout win.
The Nighthawks scored three in the first and two more in the second and never looked back. With Robinson in control in the circle, the five runs were more than enough.
That same night CDO eliminated No. 1 Verrado 8-5 to set up the meeting with Cactus.
CDO jumped out to a 4-0 lead but ended up needing a late inning rally to earn the win. The Dorados scored two in the second thanks to a Samantha Nettling home run and added single runs in the fourth and fifth, but the Vipers stormed back with a four-run fifth to tie the game at four.
The Dorados re-took the lead with two runs in the sixth, but their lead was just 6-5 heading into the seventh.
Ariana Felix singled home a run and later scored to extend the lead to 8-5 in the top of the seventh.
CDO pitcher Randi Longville tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to end No. 1 Verrado’s season.
The two teams last met on May 8, in the third round of the playoffs with Ironwood Ridge winning 17-0. Since then the Dorados have gone 4-0, outscoring their opponents 34-6.
Ironwood Ridge had the easier path to the championship game, but still had to beat No. 1 Verrado before beating No. 7 Cactus.
Marana was also one of the final six teams in the playoffs, and one of the final four undefeated teams. After winning their first three games of the playoffs the fell 5-1 to Cactus and were eliminated 11-0 by CDO.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the third, when a two-out error allowed CDO to score a run. They would tack on another run that inning to go up 2-0.
The bats came alive from there. They scored four more in the fourth inning, then thanks to a three-run home run by Makenzie Sullivan, scored five runs in the fifth and evoked the 10-run mercy rule.
CDO got a strong pitching performance from Longville. The Dorado’s ace struggled in her first few playoff outings, but tossed a one-hitter against the Tigers.
The Pusch Ridge baseball team had a stellar season, but in the end could not overcome their nemesis Desert Christian. The Lions went 26-6 on the season, but fell three times to the Eagles, including a 4-2 loss in the Division IV baseball championship game.
The Lions were not only playing the state’s top-ranked team but a team motivated by the passing of assistant coach Ryan Hansen earlier in the season.
The Lions struck first, scoring two runs in the top of the first thanks to an error, an wild pitch and an RBI single.
The Eagles answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning to trim the lead in half.
Desert Christian tied the game in the third, then took the lead with two more runs in the fifth inning thanks to back-to-back, two-out RBI singles.
Pusch Ridge cruised through their first two games of the playoffs, beating Chandler Prep and Tempe Prep by a combined 21-1.
In the semi-finals, they edged San Manuel 3-0.