Tag: On The Diamond

5 of Nation’s Top 10 Teams From the Pac-12

ASU OregonThe Washington Huskies return to the top 10 and leapfrog the Arizona Wildcats while the top three teams in the nation represent the Pac-12 Conference. Here’s how the Pac-12 fared in the latest release of the USA Today/NFCA Division I softball poll:

No. 1 Oregon (47-6-1, 18-2-1 Pac-12)

Despite only winning once in their past three games, the Ducks managed to hold on to their first-place ranking for a fifth straight week. Oregon dropped the series opener to No. 3 Arizona State, 4-2 due to fielding errors in the sixth inning. Sophomore ace Cheridan Hawkins fanned 10 batters in 6.2 innings and was the hard-luck loser, dropping to 28-4 on the season. The Ducks roared back on Saturday and run-ruled the Sun Devils for the first time since 2010.

Catcher Janelle Lindvall powered a huge nine-run second inning with a 2-of-3 performance resulting in two RBI and two runs scored. Pinch hitter Stevie Joe Knapp threw the knock-out punch with her three-run homer in the sixth inning. Sunday’s game was declared a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning after rain delays of 34 and 36 minutes. Oregon ends the season on the road at Arizona on a Thursday to Saturday set.

No. 2 UCLA (46-5, 17-4 Pac-12)

Ally Carda

Ally Carda

Taking their cue from Oregon, the Bruins dropped their series opener to Stanford, 12-9. Trailing 12-4 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, UCLA rallied to score five runs, however that would not be enough to overcome the eight-run deficit.

Also following suit with Oregon, UCLA would run-rule its opponent on Saturday, 9-0 in five innings.

Junior Ally Carda continued her domination on both sides of the ball, knocking in a three-run homerun and pitching a three-hit shutout en route to her 26th win of the season. Carda roared back on Sunday, breaking a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning on a two-run homer and then improved to 27-4 after picking up the win in relief. UCLA sees its final opponent of the regular season in Tempe when it takes on Arizona State beginning Thursday night.

No. 3 Arizona State (42-7, 13-4 Pac-12)

The Sun Devils visited the top-ranked Oregon Ducks and only lost once, a remarkable feat in itself. In Friday’s matchup, shortstop Cheyenne Coyle shocked Oregon by knocking a solo homer off ace Cheridan Hawkins in the first inning. The Ducks would strike back, scoring two runs in the fourth inning before the Devils rallied for three runs in the sixth. Senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo proved once again that she is one of the best pitchers in the country, striking out eight Ducks batters and allowing only five hits.

Saturday’s game was an emotional letdown after topping the No. 1 team in the country and the Devils were shelled for nine runs in the second inning while only managing three hits in six innings. The rain-interrupted game on Sunday saw Escobedo return to the circle and second baseman Nikki Girard pace the offense. Girard hit 2-of-2 with two RBI and a run scored, and it was her two-run homer that put the Devils up 2-0 in the fifth inning. Arizona State hosts No. 2 UCLA this weekend to complete the 2014 regular season.

No. 8 Washington (30-13, 10-9 Pac-12)

Hooch Fagaly

Hooch Fagaly

The Huskies jumped three spots and returned to the top 10 after taking two of three from visiting Arizona.The Huskies battled on Friday as the teams were knotted at seven runs apiece heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Senior first baseman Hooch Fagaly stepped up big, delivering a walk-off grand-slam home run. Fagaly hit 4-of-6 over the weekend with four RBI and five runs scored, and was namedPac-12 Player of the Week for her efforts.

Senior pitcher Bryana Walker picked up the win in relief of Kaitlin Inglesby. Saturday’s game was rained out, so Walker returned to the circle Sunday morning to shut out the Wildcats, surrendering only one hit in the mercy-rule five-inning game, 8-0.

Walker’s luck would run out in the second game of the doubleheader as she was a handed a 2-0 loss despite surrendering only four hits over three innings. Inglesby pitched the final four innings, but neither team would plate another run. The Huskies travel to Berkeley this weekend to finish their season against Cal.

No. 9 Arizona (40-11, 13-8 Pac-12)

The Wildcats dropped their third series of the year, losing two of three to Washington and remaining stagnant in the polls. On Friday, Arizona jumped out early on Washington starter Kaitlin Ingelesby with three runs in the first inning and three more in the fourth. First baseman Hallie Wilson fueled the Wildcat offense with 3-of-4 hitting and her 13th home run. Not to be outdone, catcher Chelsea Goodacre knocked a two-run shot, her 21st of the season to tie the NCAA lead with homers on the season.

After the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, senior pitcher Estela Pinon took the circle for the second game and pitched a two-hit gem that moved her record to 15-5. Shortstop Kellie Fox hit 2-of-3, but it was Kelsey Rodriguez who was the hero with a two-run shot in the third inning. The ‘Cats host the top-ranked Oregon Ducks this weekend in Tucson.

Maricopa Rams’ baseball ends season on high note

Karyn Speer Photo

MARICOPA, Ariz. —  The Maricopa High School baseball program struggled in the final month of the season, losing nine straight. However, the Rams took the final game with an 8-4 win over Poston Butte High in SanTan Valley last Wednesday.

Sophomore Tyler Rapp paced the Rams, hitting 3-of-4 with an RBI, a stolen base and two runs scored.

Senior pitcher Dillon Moran pitched six innings of six-hit baseball, issuing four strikeouts and allowing only three earned runs to pick up his second win of the season.

Senior Tristan Hartley pitched an artful inning of relief, retiring the Broncos in order in the seventh.

The Rams would finish the season 8-17 overall and 2-9 in section play. Coach Andrew Pollak’s squad only managed two wins at home.

Dallas Speer

Dallas Speer

Final season stats show that senior Bernardo Juarez led all batters with a .364 batting average. Tyler Rapp’s .323 average was the best among players with a minimum of 50 at-bats. Rapp led the team with 19 runs scored.

Junior Nick Diaz was the star from the plate and was the only player to record a home run this season, and he did it three times. Diaz also paced the team with 12 RBIs and was tied for most triples (1) and total hits (21) with seniors Noah Anderson and Hartley, respectively.

Senior pitchers Moran, Hartley and Dallas Speer were the heart of the Rams’ pitching staff. Speer led all pitchers with 57 strikeouts while Hartley issued the fewest walks among the three with 19. Speer allowed the fewest hits (37) while Hartley allowed the fewest earned runs (21).

Rapp and freshman Jackson Stensgard are the only returning pitchers with seven pitchers graduating this month.

Softball recap

The varsity softball team was not as fortunate, finishing the season on a nine-game losing streak, including the final two at home. The Lady Rams took a 4-0 lead into the fifth inning over Poston Butte last Wednesday but allowed three runs in the fifth and five in the sixth before falling 8-6 at home.

Coach Chris Ansley’s squad finished the season 11-16 overall and 1-8 in section. The Rams were 7-9 at home including a 6-0 sweep of the Krystin Diehl Softball Tournament and 4-7 away from home.

Through 25 of 27 games, senior catcher Madi Moncel led the Rams with a .437 batting average, 31 hits and was tied with junior Shay Barney with three triples.

Chelsea Trejo & Madi Moncel

Chelsea Trejo & Madi Moncel

Senior third baseman Madi Byrd tied for most doubles (8) and home runs (1) with junior Isabel McCloskey. Freshman Kayla Martinez knocked in a home run this season.

McClosley was an RBI machine with 31 RBIs in 25 games, averaging 1.24 RBI per game.

Senior second baseman Chelsea Trejo led the Lady Rams with 24 runs scored and was also tied for most doubles with Byrd and McCloskey.

The pitching rotation of junior Victoria Andrade and sophomores Amber Cramer and Yasmin Santa Cruz will all return next season and will look to lead the team to the playoffs.

Andrade was the team workhorse, starting 14 of 25 games. Andrade fanned 47 batters while surrendering only 23 walks. Cramer, in her seven starts and 11 total appearances garnered four wins and struck out 20 batters while only walking five.

The heart of the varsity softball team could be difficult to replace, losing seniors Moncel, Trejo and Rosie Naranjo. McCloskey, Barney, along with Sam Dugan and Alison Korittky, are likely the team leaders in the 2015 season.

Rams’ baseball, softball seasons come to a close

MHS Base

The Maricopa High School varsity baseball and softball teams have hit a wall.

After great starts from the boys (5-3) and girls (7-3), the teams have only one win apiece since April began. Both teams will miss out on the state playoffs and will try to end the season on a high note.

The baseball team will play its final home game under the “Friday Night Lights” and will honor the seniors in a pre-game ceremony at 6:30 p.m. with first pitch at 7 p.m.

Dallas Speer

Dallas Speer

The opponent will be Valley Christian High School from Chandler. The Trojans are from a lower division based on school population but look to be heading to the Division III playoffs with a 12-9 overall record and 6-3 in section 4.

Twelve seniors will be honored on Friday night including team batting-average leaders Noah Anderson (.333) and Tristan Hartley (.308). Bernardo Juarez, who is tied for the team’s best fielding percentage (1.000) will also be honored.

The biggest hit will be in the pitching rotation with starters Dallas Speer, Dillon Moran and the aforementioned Hartley bidding farewell to the red and black. Senior reliever Michael Gunter had a season-ending surgery on Monday; he is at home recovering and will likely miss the ceremony.

Jesus Orci-Vega, Michael Ashe, Derik Johnson, Eduardo Martinez, JJ Salaz and Colton Rosales will be honored as well.

Following Friday night’s game, the Rams travel to Yuma to take on Cibola High (5-12, 4-8 section 7) on Monday at 4 p.m. and then finish the season in San Tan Valley at Poston Butte High School at 6 p.m. The Broncos are 8-14 overall and 3-5 in section 6.

Seniors Trejo, Moncel, Naranjo & Byrd

Seniors Trejo, Moncel, Naranjo & Byrd

The softball team traveled to Tucson to take on the top two teams in the section and was dismissed unceremoniously in back-to-back, run-rule games. The girls will play their final two games at home hosting Cibola (13-10, 8-4 section) at 4 p.m. and Poston Butte (3-24, 1-6 section) on Wednesday night at 6 p.m.

The softball team will bid adieu to several starters including the heart of the team in catcher Madi Moncel, second baseman Chelsea Trejo and third baseman Madi Byrd.

Moncel leads the team in batting average (.456) and hits (31), while tied with the team lead for triples (3) and home runs (1). Trejo is team leader in runs scored (24) and tied for team lead with eight doubles also places second in batting average at (.412) and hits with 28.

Moncel signed a letter of intent in February to play at Colby Community College, a two-year college in Kansas. She previously told InMaricopa.com that if things go well in Kansas, she hopes to go to the University of Illinois to play ball.

Byrd closely follows Moncel and Trejo with a .397 batting average, 27 hits, 23 runs scored and is tied for Trejo with eight doubles and tied with Moncel with a home run.

Shortstop Rosie Naranjo, a 21-game starter will also finish her season along with outfielder Kaylee Darnall and utility player Sydnee Akers.

Pac-12 Baseball: Are Teams Putting Too Much Emphasis on Rivalry Games?

Will Ballowe-Washington COVER


Pac-12 rivalry games takes center stage across the conference this weekend and fan bases from Arizona to Washington couldn’t be happier. For many teams, it is the height of the regular season and fodder for state supremacy throughout the summer and into football season.

Unfortunately, the midweek games prior to the big weekend get lost in the shuffle. Are teams putting too much focus on the rivalry games or are they merely complacent against non-conference opponents?

Conference-leading Washington (27-8-1, 14-4 Pac-12) suffered a loss to neighboring Seattle University (18-18, 7-5 WAC) on Tuesday night and has now lost two straight. This is the Huskies’ first losing streak since week two in late February. Washington returns home on Friday where it is 9-2 to take on Washington State in the Apple Cup. >>>Read more on College Baseball Central


Pac-12 Baseball: Ducks Sweep; Huskies, Bruins Win Series

AJ BaltaThe Pac-12 Conference saw eight teams earn wins over the Easter weekend while Oregon State was idle. The No. 5 Beavers travel to Sacramento State to take on the Hornets for a two-game set on Monday and Tuesday.

No. 11 Oregon (31-10, 10-5 Pac-12) hosted Washington State (16-19, 7-8 Pac-12) over the weekend and the Cougars battled every step of the way before coming up just short. Thursday’s game at PK Park was a blowout with the Ducks scoring early and often on Cougars’ starting pitcher Joe Pistorese. Freshman first baseman A.J. Balta was the star of the night for the Ducks hitting 3-of-5 with a double, a 2-run home run and three RBI.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Does Cal Poly’s Victory over Cal State Fullerton Signal Changing of Guard?

Titan Woes - COVERSAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. —  Cal State Fullerton has long ruled the roost in the Big West Conference. As the three-time defending conference champion, it has also garnered 10 championships in the past 15 years. The Titans not only ripped through the Big West Conference over the past two and half decades, but have dominated the national playoff landscape as well.

Cal State Fullerton has reached the postseason for the past 22 seasons and has made the trip to Omaha nine times in the past 20 years. The Titans have won a national championship at least once in the past four decades and are tied for fourth place overall with Arizona and Miami (Fla.) with four titles.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Rams baseball out of playoff contention; tough road for softball

BaseballThe Maricopa High School baseball and softball teams returned to the diamond Thursday with more than winning on their minds. The teams have both struggled of late and with only one section win apiece, their playoff hopes are quickly fading.

The Division II playoffs begin May 3 with the top team in each of the seven sections receiving an automatic bid. The bracket’s remaining 17 at-large bids will be given to the teams with the best overall ranking.

Division II in baseball has a total of 77 teams with seven sections of 11 teams each. The Rams (7-13, 1-7) are currently in 10th place in the section with five games remaining. Winning out against the remaining teams will provide great morale moving into the future but the state playoffs are out of reach for Coach Andrew Pollak’s squad.

The Rams lost a heartbreaking 7-6 game to South Mountain in Phoenix Thursday and are back home for their final home stretch. Maricopa faces section foe, Canyon del Oro from Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. The Dorados (15-5, 4-2 section VI) are currently in third place in section VI and 17th in Division II overall.

The final two home games will be held on Thursday and Friday hosting Ironwood Ridge (13-11, 4-4 section VI) from Tucson at 3:45 p.m. and Division III’s Valley Christian High (10-8, 5-2 section IV), under the Friday night lights at 7 p.m.

Rams SBDivision II in softball has 73 teams and section VI includes 17 teams. The Rams (11-11, 1-5 section VI) need to win the final five games of the season to move into discussions about receiving an at-large bid.

Coach Chris Ansley’s team is currently ranked at No. 30 overall in Division II and wins over three of the section’s top five teams will go a long way to convince the selection committee.

The final road top of the season sees the Rams travel to Tucson twice in the coming week. On Tuesday, it visits Canyon del Oro (17-6, 6-0 section VI) and Ironwood Ridge (20-7, 7-1 section VI) on Thursday. First pitch for both games will be 4 p.m.

Canyon del Oro has won 10 straight games and Ironwood Ridge is undefeated at home. Next week’s games are more than important – they are a necessity.

The regular season for the Rams ends at home with games April 28 and April 30. Cibola (12-8, 7-2 section VI) visits on April 28 at 4 p.m. and is in the same boat as Maricopa. It is on the fringes of the playoffs needing big wins to finish the season. Poston Butte (2-22, 1-5 section VI) from San Tan Valley is just hoping to be competitive in the 6 p.m. game on April 30.

Pac-12 Baseball: Grading Teams at Midway Point of Conference Play

Washington - COVERCollege and mid-term exams go hand in hand and the Pac-12 Conference baseball teams are hoping to move to the head of the class. The Pac-12 is historically one of the toughest conferences in all of Division I with the past two national champions hailing from the Conference of Champions.

Four of the top six teams in College World Series games played currently play their games in the Pac-12. Even more impressive is that  three of the top four teams in terms of final game appearances and national championships come from Pac. With 28 national championships, including four in the past eight seasons, it is debatable that the Pac-12 is hands down, the best conference in college baseball—past and present. >>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Pac-12 Baseball: Week 9 Holds Intriguing Matchups For Beavers, Bruins

Beavers CoverThe Pac-12 Conference enters week nine of play with Washington clinging to a one-game lead. The Huskies (22-6-1, 10-2 Pac-12), who were picked to finish near the bottom of the conference have proven that they belong in one of the toughest baseball conferences in the country.

The Pac-12 has four teams in the national polls including the latest College Baseball Central poll, it just depends on what poll you are looking at to know which four teams that are ranked. The aforementioned Huskies along with Oregon and Oregon State are unanimously ranked in all five national polls with UCLA garnering nods from the NCBWA and USA Today/Coaches’ Poll and Arizona State receiving a No. 25 vote from Collegiate Baseball.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Matt Huffman Community Night at the Ballpark on deck Wednesday

Batting PracticeThe Maricopa Rams Home Run Booster Club will be hosting Matt Huffman Community Night at the Ballpark Wednesday when both varsity softball and baseball teams host the Casa Grande Cougars.

Huffman, the former Maricopa High senior who was headed to Indiana State University on both an academic and athletic scholarship for baseball died while running in January 2002. The field where the baseball team plays, which opened in 2010, was re-dedicated to Huffman where his name and legacy will continue to inspire.

The event is open to the community. Youth are encouraged to wear their uniforms or school spirit to school to show their support of Rams’ athletics.

The first game of the day will be at 3:45 p.m. when the junior varsity baseball team hosts the Casa Grande JV squad. The varsity teams will take the field at 6 p.m. with several events prior to the first pitch.

Every student in attendance will receive a raffle ticket with several prizes available including two 7-inch Android tablets, iTunes gift cards, a summer splash basket of goodies and gift cards from Yogurt Jungle among the giveaways.

Photo courtesy of Sam Dugan

Photo courtesy of Sam Dugan

Each team will honor the teachers that have made a difference in their education at 5:30 p.m. and two lucky youths will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for both games at 5:55 p.m.

The rivalry between the Rams and Cougars is an intense one with the Rams leading the Cougars in all sports, 21-17-1 since the 2007 season. The Rams have won the past four events against Casa Grande including baseball in April, boys and girls soccer in January and girls basketball in December.

The softball team is coming off their biggest win of the season when it defeated Coronado High School in Scottsdale on Monday night, 21-3. The Lady Rams improved to 11-7 and 1-2 in section standings.

The Casa Grande Cougars (10-10, 0-4 section VI) are in the midst of a rollercoaster season coming into the game on a five-game losing streak when they had won the seven games prior.

The Lady Rams are led by sophomore pitcher Amber Cramer’s section-leading 1.48 ERA with junior Victoria Andrade currently in the No. 5 spot at 2.45. On the offensive side of the ball, junior first baseman Isabel McCloskey is tied for the most RBI with 25, while senior third baseman, Madi Byrd ranks fifth in runs scored with 22.

Next up for the Rams is traveling to Vista Grande (11-6, 2-2 section VI) in Casa Grande on Friday at 6 p.m. and hosting Williams Field (9-4, 4-4 section IV) from Gilbert on Monday.

photo courtesy of Karyn Sather Speer

photo courtesy of Karyn Sather Speer

The baseball squad snapped its four-game losing streak when it defeated Coronado 7-5 on Monday afternoon at Huffman Field. Senior pitcher Tristan Hartley went the distance pitching his first complete game of the season and improved his record to 3-1. Hartley fanned eight batters while only giving up seven hits and three earned runs. From the plate, Hartley went 1-of-3 with a walk and two stolen bases that led to scoring two runs.

The Rams trailed 4-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning but rallied to score five runs in the fifth and added two more in the sixth. While the Rams only totaled three hits on the game, the Dons’ pitching staff issued six walks and allowed six more to reach on error.

Senior pitcher Dallas Speer is the projected starter against Casa Grande (7-9-1, 2-2 section VI) and currently is tied for the lead in Section VI with 43 strikeouts on the season. The Cougars baseball team also enters the game on a losing streak of their own; it has lost the last two games and three of its past six.

Next up for the baseball team is hosting the Vista Grande Spartans (5-12, 1-4 section VI) on Friday at 3:45 p.m. and traveling to Williams Field High School (11-7, 7-0 section IV) on Monday, also at 3:45 p.m.