It’s a day – May 1, 2012 – that won’t be fondly remembered in the Ahwatukee Foothills sports annals.
Five area high school sports teams competed in state tournament contests on that fateful day and all took rode the bus back home in defeat.
So clearly there have been better days for Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe athletic departments, but it might be hard to find a worse.
It doesn’t, however, take away from what was accomplished from the start of the season until now.
Here is a quick rundown of what happened on this gloomy date and where it leaves the teams going forward.
Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista both would have called for “do over” after three innings if it were allowed as both teams got down by a large margin the second round of the Division I state tournament and never recovered.
The 15th-seeded Pride was down 7-1 after two innings against No. 2 Chaparral and the Firebirds kept piling on before winning a shortened game, 12-2, in five innings.
Desert Vista, seeded 20th, had a similar outcome in trailing No. 4 Brophy 11-0 after four innings. The Thunder was able to battle back, thanks to a grand slam by Colby Woodmanse, but still fell 13-7.
Each team had its struggles and accomplishments this season.
The Pride, according to some players, had difficulty early on trying to be too perfect in living up to last year’s state championship team, but quickly shed that and came up with its own identity.
“There is no pressure there unless it comes from the outside,” Pride coach Brandon Buck said. “We just wanted to compete as hard as we could every day and the only thing we could control was how we responded. We had our struggles here and there, but we pulled it together and played well.”
The Pride was lagging down in the 30s in the power rankings before winning all four games in one week and six of eight down the stretch to get in the postseason and kept it going with an extra-inning win over Mesa Mountain View in the first round of state.
The Pride lose some very good players, namely Scott Kingery, Joey Curletta and Kyle Detwiler, but will bring back enough talent to keep winning in the years to come behind pitcher Zack Cordova, Brantley Bell, Ernie de la Trinidad and others.
Desert Vista’s first winning season since 2009 was borne out of the idea of working hard each day and getting better each week.
It was simple but effective.
After a few lopsided defeats in the early going the Thunder were in all of their games – going 16-14 overall – other than a 9-2 loss to Salpointe Catholic in the second half of the year.
That’s because they had an unyielding approach to every at-bat, every inning, every game.
“There is no quit in this team and we knew we had to do something,” senior third baseman Tyler Adams said after the Brophy loss. “Everyone in that dugout stayed positive and kept encouraging like we always do and we pushed them at the end.”
The Thunder had five regulars in the everyday lineup that are expected back next season, so the foundation for the program is sturdy.
The boys and girls tennis teams from Desert Vista were very strong down the stretch, but still couldn’t steer clear of the top seeds.
The Thunder girls won their first-match as the ninth seed, but didn’t have the horses to match up with top-seeded Xavier, which has finished as state runner-up four times in the last five years, in 5-0 loss.
The boys didn’t have much better luck against Brophy, which has made the finals three straight seasons including titles in 2009 and 2010, in a 5-0 loss.
Desert Vista made its way into the postseason, advanced to the second round of the playoffs as a lower seed and won 19 games with only two seniors on the varsity roster.
It was a huge step forward for a program that was 30 games under .500 over the previous five years.
Yes, the players and coach Chris Crowl were unhappy they lost 8-2 to fourth-seeded Gilbert, but once the sting wears off and they can zoom out and realize what was accomplished, they shouldn’t hide their overall statisfaction.
“This game shows the players coming back what can be accomplished,” Crowl said after the loss. “This was a huge step for the program.”
Pitcher Danielle Block, catcher Aly Cerminara, infielder Michaela Duarte and outfielder Naomi Ricciotti are among the top players expected to take the program to the next level in 2013 and beyond.
“They rose to the occasion several times this season,” Crowl said. “We have a really strong nucleus coming back that can really help continue the progress we made this year.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.