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Preview: Bears face familiar foe Mingus in state elimination game
Prep Softball

Bradshaw Mountain’s Caitlynn Neal gets congratulated by her teammates after her first inning solo homer as the Bears take on Coconino in a rain makeup game Monday, March 25 in Prescott Valley.  The Bears are set to face  Mingus in a do-or-die game for the 4A state tournament on Thursday, May 9, in Phoenix. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Bradshaw Mountain’s Caitlynn Neal gets congratulated by her teammates after her first inning solo homer as the Bears take on Coconino in a rain makeup game Monday, March 25 in Prescott Valley. The Bears are set to face Mingus in a do-or-die game for the 4A state tournament on Thursday, May 9, in Phoenix. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

PHOENIX — Once again, it is do-or-die time for the No. 3-seeded Bradshaw Mountain softball team in the 4A state tournament.

The Bears passed their first test May 4 in Phoenix when they edged No. 7 Poston Butte, 1-0, in a second-round elimination game at Rose Mofford Softball Complex.

Now, Grand Canyon region champ Bradshaw Mountain has a chance to qualify for the state semifinals if the Prescott Valley squad can get past Grand Canyon region rival and No. 4-seeded Mingus at 6:30 p.m. today, May 9, at Rose Mofford Field No. 4.

The Bears and Marauders have met three times in 2019 alone, with Bradshaw Mountain compiling a 2-1 record. Mingus (17-3 mark in power-point games) finished as the Grand Canyon region runner-up.

“Any time you play a region opponent for the fourth time, you are going to know each other very well,” Bears coach Sharon Haese said. “We emphasize having the right mindset and keeping our composure throughout the game.”

Top-seeded and defending 4A state champion Salpointe Catholic defeated Mingus, 10-0, in a run-ruled six innings in Round 3A of the winners’ bracket on May 7. Salpointe (21-0 in power-point games) has qualified for the state semifinals and awaits the winner of Mingus-Bradshaw Mountain at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11.

If Bradshaw Mountain bests Mingus, the Bears would need to beat Salpointe twice on May 11 to reach the championship game on Tuesday, May 14. That would be a tall task for any team in this tournament, as the Lancers have outscored the opposition, 33-2, through their first three state contests.

Salpointe has mowed through three opponents, topping No. 16 Combs, 11-0, in a run-ruled five innings in the first round April 30, and dominating No. 8 Douglas, 12-2, in a run-ruled five frames May 2 before blanking Mingus.

In the bottom half of the bracket, No. 6 Canyon del Oro roughed up No. 2 Cactus, 15-3, on May 7 to qualify for the semis with Salpointe, which is del Oro’s chief rival in the Kino region.

Cactus meets No. 12 Vista Grande in the tournament’s other elimination game at 6:30 p.m. today, May 9, at Rose Mofford’s Field No. 1 to determine del Oro’s semifinal opponent. Like Bradshaw Mountain, either Cactus or Vista Grande would have to beat del Oro twice on May 11 to reach the title game.

To reach this point of the state tournament, Bradshaw Mountain (33-2 record) crushed No. 14 seed and Grand Canyon region foe Flagstaff, 11-1, in a run-ruled five innings in the first round on April 30 at home; lost to Canyon del Oro, 14-4, in a run-ruled six innings May 2 at home; and bounced back to beat No. 7 Poston Butte, 1-0, in an elimination game May 4.

Mingus, meanwhile, cruised past No. 13 Sahuaro, 9-1, in the first round and beat No. 12 Vista Grande, 5-1, in the second round before falling to Salpointe Catholic in the third round.

Thursday’s fourth meeting between Bradshaw Mountain and Mingus is shaping up to be an instant classic.

Bradshaw Mountain defeated Mingus, 1-0, at the Gracie Lee Haught Invitational March 16 at Rumsey Park in Payson. The teams then split their annual two-game region series, with the Bears losing, 3-2, March 26 in Cottonwood, but winning, 11-1, at home on March 28. Mingus was the only opponent to beat the Bears during the regular season.

“We will continue to take our same approach and be business-like,” Haese said. “Everyone knows their role and what they need to do to get the job done.”

UP NEXT

If Bradshaw Mountain defeats Mingus today, the Bears would advance to the state semifinal round at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at Rose Mofford Softball Complex against Salpointe Catholic.

Bradshaw Mountain would need to win back-to-back games on May 11 to qualify for the state championship game at a to-be-determined time and place on Tuesday, May 14.

Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at dcook@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.

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