Bears softball qualifies for 4A state semifinals
PHOENIX — State semifinals, here they come.
The Bradshaw Mountain Bears’ softball team defeated Grand Canyon region rival Mingus, 8-5, in a 4A state tournament elimination game Thursday, May 9, at the Rose Mofford Softball Complex to advance to the semis for the first time since 2006.
Bradshaw Mountain, the No. 3 seed, improved its record to 34-2, while No. 4 Mingus ended its season with a 17-4 mark in power-point games.
Madisen Duryea helped spark the Bears at the dish, going 2 for 3 with a double, a home run and three RBIs. Jacie Hambrick (2 for 4, double, triple, two RBIs) and Caitlynn Neal (2 for 3, double, two RBIs) also played key roles.
In the pitcher’s circle, Neal allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits, registering nine strikeouts and issuing five walks in 6-1/3 innings to nab the victory.
This was the fourth time that these teams had met in 2019, with Bradshaw Mountain coming out on top with a 3-1 head-to-head record.
“Anytime you play a team four times, it’s difficult because you are so familiar with one another,” Bears coach Sharon Haese said. “Although we got down 3-2 in the fifth inning [Thursday], our girls showed a lot of resolve and found a way to string some hits together and score some runs.”
Situated in the top half of the bracket, the Bears will now face No. 1-seeded Salpointe Catholic at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at Mofford.
They would need back-to-back wins Saturday to qualify for next week’s state championship game.
“We are looking forward to playing the Number 1 team in the state on Saturday,” Haese said.
In the bottom half of the bracket, No. 6 Canyon del Oro will battle No. 2 Cactus in the other semifinal, also at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at Mofford.
Cactus bested Vista Grande, 3-1, in the tournament’s other elimination game May 9 to advance. Like Bradshaw Mountain, Cactus must beat del Oro twice on May 11 to reach the title contest.
Del Oro roughed up Cactus, 15-3, on May 7 to qualify for the semis with Salpointe, del Oro’s chief rival in the Kino region.
During the regular season against Mingus, Grand Canyon region champion Bradshaw Mountain compiled a 2-1 record versus the region runner-up Marauders.
Bradshaw Mountain edged 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.
To reach this point of the state tournament, Bradshaw Mountain 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 then bounced back to edge Poston Butte, 1-0, in an elimination game on May 4.
Mingus, meanwhile, had eliminated No. 13 Sahuaro, 9-1, in the first round and had beaten No. 12 Vista Grande, 5-1, in the second round before falling to Salpointe in the third round.
Bradshaw Mountain has qualified for the 4A state tournament semifinals against top-seeded, defending state champion and Kino region titlist Salpointe Catholic (21-0 record in power-point games) at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at the Mofford Complex in Phoenix.
If the Bears win, they would have to beat Salpointe again immediately after the first game to reach 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 email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.