Red Mountain’s quest for a third consecutive big school softball championship continued Tuesday afternoon with a 9-2 win over rival-Mountain View in the second round of the Division I state softball tournament.
Red Mountain will face No. 7 Yuma Cibola on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals at Rose Mofford Sports Complex. The tournament now enters the double elimination format.
The No. 2-seeded Lions (31-3) got superb performances from starting pitcher Siera Phillips and catcher Jordan Beck.
Phillips pitched a complete game, allowing two runs on seven hits with 12 strikeouts. She controlled the game from the start and faced only seven batters in the first two innings.
“Siera did a good job. When she is in command of her pitches like that she does a great job," Lions coach Rich Hamilton said. "She is a senior and doesn’t get rattled and in the playoffs you need someone like her.”
Beck finished 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI.
"Siera pitched a great game and we made each other look good.” Beck said. “We did a great job hitting the ball and getting runners in. The girls did a great job at getting us runs."
As Red Mountain has done countless times this season, the Lions jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Beck got things started with an RBI single to left which scored leadoff hitter Haley Culley. Payton Kornfeind scored on a throwing error and Bre Gonzalez pushed two more across before being called out at second. That 4-0 cushion was all the Lions would need as No. 18 Mountain View was never got closer than four runs.
The Toros scored a run in both the third and fourth inning but lost starting pitcher Val Kaff in the fourth inning to an apparent shoulder injury. Amy Tarnowski replaced Kaff but immediately gave up a three-run home run to Beck just over the right-center field fence in the bottom of the fourth.
Tarnowski only allowed two more hits in the final two innings she pitched, but the damage was done.
After reaching the semifinals of the 5A Division I state tournament last year before losing twice to Red Mountain, the Toros lost five seniors and came into this season with a new coach.
After struggling a little bit towards the middle of the season, Mountain View won its final five regular season games and picked up a thrilling 1-0 victory at Glendale Sandra Day O’Connor in the first round last Saturday.
Mountain View finished the season 23-11 overall.
“We had a great season," Toros coach Joe Goodman said. "We just ran into a better team. We had a good core and we can hold our heads up high.”
For Beck and Phillips it was all about teamwork as the deep, talented Lions move on. Beating them twice won't be easy for the rest of Division I.
“I was really proud of our team," Phillips said. "We did really well both offensively and defensively. We worked our situations well when we had runners on and didn’t panic."