The Marana Tigers were staring at a 5-0 deficit in the middle innings of their softball play-in game against Rincon/University High School Wednesday afternoon.
The Tigers (13-9, 5-6) surrendered five runs in the game’s first four innings, before cracking the scoreboard in the bottom half of the fourth.
That three-run frame, which saw Tatum Caldwell, Ashley Fields and Arianna Garcia drive in runs on a trio of singles, breathed life into the Tigers’ offense.
Marana continued their comeback in the fifth inning, matching a Rangers run with one of their own on a single by Caldwell to tie the game at 5 apiece.
The home side appeared to take their first lead of the day in the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Tigers hit what looked like a sacrifice fly.
The home plate umpire, on review, ruled that the Tigers baserunner left third base before the Rangers outfielder caught the ball, which meant the visitors got an inning-ending double play.
The Tigers weren’t thwarted, however, with sophomore pitcher Leila Rouhani pitching a clean inning to set the stage for what would come in the bottom of the seventh.
Marana managed to get a baserunner on to start the inning, but a line drive double play cleared the bases.
After a two-out walk, sophomore catcher Ashley Fields stepped up to the plate, looking to drive the runner in from first.
Fields would do just that, inside-outing a pitch into a massive gap along the right field line, scoring the winning run in the process.
The five-run comeback was a source of pride for coach George Corona, who touched on how important a playoff win is to this year’s youthful roster.
“[Today’s win is] super important for this team,” he said. “We're super young for the most part. We've got a few seniors but only one of them plays a significant amount,” Corona said. “So, it's a big win for them. Anywhere they go from here it's really cool.”
Fields, who went 1-for-4 at the plate with 2 RBIs Wednesday, touched on the cocktail of nervousness and pride that swelled inside as she clocked Rincon/University sophomore Alexis Byrnes’ pitch in the seventh.
“At first, I went up with a lot of confidence, and told myself I can do it, I've been in this pressure situation before,” Fields said. “Once I hit the ball, I kind of knew, and I just ran, and I kept running.”
Rouhani, who allowed five runs on seven hits in seven innings of work in the circle for Corona, argued that Wednesday’s come-from-behind victory shows how much this year’s team can achieve.
“Pitching in the circle, when the other team gets five runs, it's rough,” she said. “It's rough to keep your head in the game. But I knew when I walked in the dugout for [the seventh] inning that we turned it around, that my team was behind me. We brought it back, and it just shows how together we are.”
The Tigers, like the rest of the state, will find out their first-round opponent in the 5A playoffs today Thursday, April 25.