Arcadia softball survives scare to stay alive

Willow Canyon’s Brooke Windahl (#7) turns a double play against Arcadia, as Titans senior Regan Kerr slides into second base on Thursday, May 3, 2018 at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix. (Independent Newsmedia/Jacob Stanek)

More than any high school sport, momentum in softball can stop on a dime and careen violently in the other direction.

Arcadia, the top seed in 5A, was nearly a victim of this Thursday night in an elimination game at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix. The Titans carried a 12-game winning streak into the double elimination portion of the bracket before being ambushed 12-3 by No. 8 Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge Tuesday.

Then, they watched a 5-1 lead evaporate in a matter of two innings as No. 12 Surprise Willow Canyon scored three runs in the top of the fifth inning and one more to tie in the top of the sixth.

Arcadia regrouped, and loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth. Senior Mae Forshey drove two runs in with a single and junior relief pitcher Jade Ng allowed one base runner in the top of the seventh but shut the door for a 7-5 win.

“When they tied I said, ‘Oh it’s a 0-0 ballgame. We’re starting from scratch.’ I tried to take the pressure off everybody. We’re going to go out there and hit,” Forshey said. “My first two at bats were awful. I was so over-agressive. I was looking for a ball low in the zone … Thank God it worked.”

At 7:30 p.m. May 8, Arcadia (29-4) will have another elimination game against a familiar foe. District rival and No. 4 seed Chaparral (25-10) fell 5-0 to Ironwood Ridge Thursday.

The Titans beat Chaparral in both regular season meetings.

Arcadia’s Ellie Richardson throws a pitch against Willow Canyon during a 5A elimination game Thursday, May 3, 2018 at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix. (Independent Newsmedia/Jacob Stanek)

“They took charge themselves (after Willow Canyon tied). Mae Forshey and Haley Denning set the tone. I don’t have to say much. I’ve got a lot of seniors on the team and they know what to do,” Arcadia coach Jason Foster said.

Foster’s squad was in control early, scoring two runs in the first inning. The opening run came home on an error and the Titans loaded the bases with no outs for Forshey.

She hit into a double play, but on the right side of the infield, allowing a teammate to come home.

Both teams scored once in the second inning.

Senior Maria Serrato hit a two-run homer to left in the bottom of the fourth. That gave junior starter Ellie Richardson a 5-1 cushion.

But with runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the fifth, Foster pulled richardson in favor of senior reliever Abby Holloran.

Willow Canyon (18-13-1) junior Andraya Rhinehart greeted her with a deep fly ball that was dropped for a run-scoring error. Senior MacKenzie Federico followed with a 2-RBI shot.

Senior Brooke Windahl singled to lead off the sixth and advanced to second on an air after Ng came on in relief. Ng battled back with two strikeouts, but sophomore Mo Foster tied the game on a RBI single.

“All year long, we’ve never been out of a game. We just needed a kick start. I’m very proud of them and I’ve been proud of them all year. They set us on a course we’ve never been on. That’s the No. 1 team in the state and I thought at times we outplayed them,” Willow Canyon coach Donnie Tizzano said. “Mo is just a sophomore but there is nobody else I want up in that spot.”

Ng earned the win with a strong seventh inning.

“It’s huge, they had the momentum once they tied it up. They fought back and we knew they were going to. If you lood at their record, they played a lot of really good teams in a tough region,” coach Foster said.

Editor’s Note: Richard Smith is the Sports Editor for West Valley Preps.

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