A capacity crowd was treated to a ballgame for the ages at Pima Community College on Thursday afternoon.
The game, pitting longtime softball stalwarts Canyon del Oro and Salpointe Catholic, lived up to the billing—with a dazzling display of pitching and defense for most of the day.
The stars of the game were a pair of underclassmen hurlers, in CDO sophomore Amya Legarra of CDO and Salpointe freshman Alyssa Aguilar.
The duo was electric, with Legarra surrendering two runs (one earned) on four hits in five-and-two-thirds innings pitched, while Aguilar threw a complete game, three hit shutout.
The Lancers, behind Aguilar, did just enough to advance to Monday’s state final, eking out a 2-0 win over the Dorados by scoring a run in the fourth and sixth innings.
The Dorados got off to a hot start, with Ellessa Bonstrom reaching on an error by the Lancers’ center-fielder. They couldn’t get her in, however, with Bonstrom being the lone Dorado to reach third base in the game.
Thursday’s defeat was a tough pill for longtime Dorados Coach Kelly Fowler to swallow, though she had plenty of positives from which to pull.
A dollar short
Fowler praised the Lancers for getting timely hits on the sport’s biggest stage, and thanked her team for putting in a tough postseason contest.
“I'm super-proud of them,” Fowler said. “And, you know that the program just keeps rolling along. I'm prouder, not just of their softball skills, but looking back on our trip to California, and the Dorado Classic, and how the kids just performed as human beings.”
Senior pitcher and infielder Mikayla Santa Cruz, who played one year for Fowler after transferring from Salpointe Catholic, has no regrets on the way the season shook out.
Santa Cruz remembers the team’s restless trip to California, spending hours on end together and forging a bond that will stand the test of time. It’s those moments that permeate for Fowler’s players, reminding them that there’s more to the art of softball than the game itself.
“This year was my best year of high school and it was because all of the girls,” Santa Cruz said. “On our way back [from California], we spent half of the way down eating Domino’s Pizza and singing karaoke, the other half was sleeping. The highlight of my senior year would have to be when I was able to help my team beat Ironwood Ridge with a walk-off to the fence.”
Read the full story in next week's Explorer and Marana News, May 16.