Bears nab first region title since 2007 season
PRESCOTT VALLEY — Region champions!
Bradshaw Mountain’s softball program hadn’t uttered those words in 12 years until Monday, April 15, when the 2019 Bears clinched the Grand Canyon region title with a 2-0 victory over Coconino in Flagstaff.
The Bears captured their seventh region championship since 1996 and their first since 2007, when coach Sharon Haese’s daughter, former Bears pitcher Shawn Haese, led Bradshaw Mountain to the crown as a sophomore.
With Monday’s win, the 4A No. 3-ranked Bears extended their winning streak to nine, with seven of those victories coming via shutout. They own a 30-1 record (includes program-record 20-0 start; 16-1 in power-point games) and ended their region campaign at 11-1 – currently a game in front of second-place and No. 5-ranked Mingus, which has two region contests remaining.
Bradshaw Mountain should earn an automatic berth into the 16-team state tournament and play host to a first-round playoff game at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, at its campus field in Prescott Valley.
The Top 8-ranked teams in 4A at the end of the regular season are automatic state qualifiers, with the last eight spots in the 16-team bracket determined by a one-day state play-in round at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 24.
Those teams seeded Nos. 9 through 24 are paired for the play-in round, with the Nos. 9 through 16 seeds each playing host to a game. Only the winners of those contests advance to state, where they are reseeded and paired with the Nos. 1 through 8-seeded squads for the opening round.
“At the beginning of the season, we sat down and spent a lot of time thinking about what we would like to accomplish this season,” coach Haese said Tuesday. “The girls created a list of goals, and they have been very methodical in working towards accomplishing everything on their list.
“As proud as I am, I know there are still more goals on that piece of paper. This is a group that will not rest until they accomplish everything they set out to do at the beginning of the season.”
At Coconino on Monday, Bears starting pitcher Jacie Hambrick allowed two hits and struck out four in the first three innings. Caitlynn Neal entered in the fourth inning, surrendering one hit and fanning eight in the final four frames.
In a scoreless tie heading into the fourth, Layla Stouder hit an RBI single to plate Hambrick, who had led off the inning with a drag-bunt single. Later, leading 1-0 in the fifth with one out, Kassidy Outlaw reached on an error and later scored on a fielding error for the 2-0 lead that stood.
Bradshaw Mountain finished the game with four hits, which also included a single from Outlaw and a double from Aniessa Ramirez. Coconino had three hits and four errors, and it stranded five runners. The Bears committed one error and stranded six runners.
BY THE NUMBERS
In addition to setting a program-record 20-game winning streak in 2019, the Bears have clubbed a single-season program-best 37 homers, while tallying the program’s lowest combined single-season ERA of 0.29.
Also this year, Bradshaw Mountain has scored 291 runs (second only to Cactus in 4A) to 18 runs against (lowest amount allowed in 4A).
Bradshaw Mountain concludes the regular season against 4A No. 10 Desert Edge (11-4 record in power-point games) at 3:45 p.m. Thursday, April 18, in Goodyear.
Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.