Chino Valley All-Stars’ magical season comes to an end
COTTONWOOD — The Chino Valley Little League Softball Major’s All-Stars were on an absolute tear in this year’s campaign, but unfortunately for them, they met their match Monday night as they came up short to Gilbert 11-2 during the state tournament in Cottonwood.
While Chino Valley seemed to simply run out of gas in their final outing against a formidable Gilbert side, manager John Richards said he still proud of the way his players all came together after working hard for so many years, especially because this the only time a Chino Valley softball team has ever qualified for the state tournament.
”It feels amazing, really. To our knowledge, it’s the first time a softball program from Chino Valley Little League has ever made it to the state tournament, so to be the first ones to do it, it feels really good,” Richards said. “I’ve worked with most all of these girls for three years now. They’ve put in a lot of time and effort, and for it to finally pay off, it’s a great feeling.”
As offensively deep as Chino Valley was, their success started with its pitching staff as McKenzie Sanders and Breanne Petty proved to be tow of the top pitchers in the state, according to Richards. In the state tournament, Sanders racked up 25 strikeouts and gave up 15 runs in 16 total innings while Petty put in eight innings and registered thirteen strikeouts and surrendered six runs.
“We went through the district tournament undefeated at 4-0 behind those two girls and they really pitched excellently,” Richards said. “They proved that they are two of the better 12-year-old pitchers in the state of Arizona. I really didn’t see much else in the [state] tournament that was actually quite as good as those two girls.”
Also on defense, position players Jamie Felton and Tahlia Magarrell also made their presence felt, executing key plays all throughout the tournament. Felton split time between short stop and second base while Magarrell was moved to first base just prior to the tournament. However, the unfamiliar circumstance didn’t faze her one bit and was just as reliable as ever.
Chino Valley’s memorable run began in the District 10 tournament where the team tore through the competition by going undefeated in four games. They carried their momentum into the state tournament and wound up being one the eight remaining teams out of the 13-team field.
In the opening game on Friday, Chino Valley got off on the right foot by defeating California team Blythe 8-3. However, they were sent down to the loser’s bracket on Saturday after narrowly falling to Holiday Park 4-3 in the second round.
Chino Valley managed to bounce back on Sunday when they trounced Bisbee 5-3, eliminating them from the tournament. This set up a duel with Gilbert in which Chino Valley couldn’t get anything going on offense.
Despite the shortcoming, Richards sees a lot of potential in his players and his excited to see how well they are developing so that they can be ready for the next level.
“Us coaches came together a few years ago and we want to help the Chino Valley Little League program. We want to help grow softball for our kids,” Richards said. “It just all started out with an idea of how we can help these girls be successful in high school and it’s got to start at the Little League level.”
Aaron Valdez is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier of Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter at @Valaaron_94. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2031.