The hits kept coming for the Marana Tigers on a toasty Friday afternoon in the shadows of the Tucson Mountains.
The Tigers, paired off against the Cholla Chargers, jumped out to an 8-1 lead against the hometown Chargers entering the game’s final inning.
They erupted in that stanza, stringing together a parade of singles and doubles, lighting up the scoreboard in the process. The Tigers (10-11) eventually scored 12 times in the seventh, padding an already-impressive lead.
Their offensive mettle was more than enough for sophomore Cheyenne Hudson, who tossed a complete game for Coach George Corona.
Corona, in his ninth season coaching at Marana, was impressed by the effort his players showed against the Chargers, praising their ability to get timely hits throughout the day.
“We got off to a pretty slow start,” he said. “We’ve been working on competing in practice. We were a little shaky in the beginning, but [Cheyenne] did a pretty good job of keeping them off balance and keeping us in the ballgame early.”
Corona pointed out the performance turned in by freshman Ashley Fields, who opened the scoring in the game’s first inning with an RBI single. Fields, who had RBIs in the third, sixth and seventh innings for the Tigers, said the team was relieved to get out to an early lead, allowing them to play free.
“It felt pretty good to finally breakaway and get ahead, get more ahead,” Fields said.
Corona has enjoyed coaching this year’s team, which has an equal mix of camaraderie and joviality that makes every day entertaining.
“I’m not allowed to tell you what happened in the huddle over here, but it makes me smile sometimes,” he said. “Now, they can drive me crazy sometimes, too, because they’re so young and goofy. They make those mistakes that we don’t like to see at the varsity level, but that’s part of having such a young team.”
The longtime skipper hopes his players stay positive heading into sectional play from their strong performance against the Chargers.
He knows last Friday’s win is only the first step in that long process, but that the road to the playoffs has to start somewhere.
“I think the confidence level has to stay high,” Corona said. “That’s part of the problem with youth is that if it doesn’t go well right away, they start fussing. Then, the higher the pressure is, the more poorly they perform. Hopefully their confidence level will continue to go up.”
Fields knows how well the Tigers can play when they’re clicking, and that Friday’s blowout win is far from an aberration.
She believes the team’s fate hinges on their ability to start strong and keep that positivity flowing throughout the game.
If they can do that, she says, they’ll have the chance at taking their section, and the state as a whole, by surprise.
“[The key for us] is just starting off the game well and knowing that we can do it and knowing that we’re a good and competitive team,” she said.