June 8, 2005 - Callista Balko got the University of Arizona softball team a quarter of the way to a win in the NCAA world series, Adrienne Acton got the rest. Balko and Acton, former Northwest stars from Canyon Del Oro and Marana high schools, respectively, provided the offense for the Wildcats in the team's dramatic 3-2 win over California in 12 innings on June 4 in Oklahoma City.

After Balko was walked to start the bottom of the 12th inning, Acton was inserted into the game as a pinch hitter. Two batters later, the speedy Marana grad scampered around for the winning run from second base on an Allyson Von Liechtenstein's squib single.

The six-time national champion Wildcats fell short in its bid for No. 7, however, losing its next game to the University of Texas, 1-0, in another marathon extra-inning game - this time.

On the year, Balko and Acton played several different roles for Mike Candrea's team. Balko, the starting catcher for most of the season, lead the Wildcats in putouts with 404. Acton mostly served as a pinch runner, swiping five bases in eight attempts.

At the plate, instead of behind it, Balko slugged five homeruns and drove in 23 runs. The former CDO star edged out Acton in batting average, hitting .205 to the Marana speedster's .175.

Powell flying high

Jordan Powell of Canyon Del Oro High School (see El Sol story page 21) continues to prove the UA was right in offering the senior a scholarship to compete on the school's track and field team.

At the 30th Annual Great Southwest Classic, held June 2 through 5 at University of New Mexico's track and field stadium in Albuquerque, N.M., Powell continued to dominate the field, this time on a national level. The UA-bound Powell won the boys long high jump with a leap of 24-01, out-jumping Frankie Gatson of Shreveport, La. He followed up the winning performance by tying for ninth in the boys high jump with a jump of 6 feet, 10-inches.

The summer is just getting started for Powell, who will compete in several other meets in California in June.

Tucson squashed

Among the sports played as part of the Grand Canyon State Games Tucson Competition, held throughout the city June 3 through 5, the Northwest and Foothills area played host to several non-mainstream sports competitions. The Tucson Jewish Community Center was the site of this year's squash tournament, and this year marked the first time the event was held as part of the Grand Canyon State Games in Tucson. With limited sites for playing, the field was forced to cap its entrants at 24. Among the winners in the tourney's three categories was Kalleem Beg, a former Tucsonan who won the gold medal in the A category, and O.V. Singh, who won the bronze. Phoenix is considered the squash capital of Arizona. This year's tourney marked the first time in five years that Tucson has held a squash tournament.

Hairston POW

Tucson Sidewinder and former Canyon Del Oro High School standout Scott Hairston was named Player of the Week by the Pacific Coast League. Between May 30 and June 5, Hairston batted 13-32 (.406) with six homeruns and 10 RBI. Through June 5, the Sidewinders were 30-28 and a few percentage points behind Sacramento and Las Vegas for tops in the division.


Are you ahead of the game? If so, we would like to hear from you. You can e-mail the EXPLORER sports desk with any information on games, athletes or anything else related to sports in the Northwest and Foothills regions at cwuensch@explorernews.com.

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