For the first time since 2008, Centennial softball will not play at Rose Mofford Park.
No. 4 seed Pinnacle (26-7) eliminated the defending state champions Wednesday, 9-1, at Sandra Day O’Connor High School.
It was a topsy-turvy year for the Coyotes. They graduated big game pitcher Mo Montemayor and offensive threat Paige Tonz, then handed the reins to first-year coach Mike Repak. Through it all, Centennial managed a 25-10 and won its second straight Desert West Region title.
And Centennial did it while starting just three seniors and a freshman pitcher.
“(Today’s loss) was all part of life’s growth,” Repak said. “We finished the year with a 25-10 record – that’s a pretty good year. It’s about opportunities and I feel like the kids played hard.”
Like Tuesday’s win against No. 16-seed Yuma, the Coyotes looked to freshman pitcher Paige Mills to keep their state title hopes alive. However, Pinnacle leaned on its experience and jumped on Mills early, scoring two in the second on an error and an RBI double by Shea Palmer. Centennial finished with three errors in the inning, which contributed to both runs.
The Pioneers tacked on another run in the third when Dani Dockx grounded into a fielders choice but scored one batter later on senior Mackenzi Dallas’ RBI double.
“At this juncture (of the season) the play is tight and I think our girls came out a little tight,” Repak said. “We had some throwing errors and we couldn’t put the ball in play. You can’t win games if you don’t get the bat on the ball.”
The Coyotes had their opportunities to score early, too. Krystal Garcia reached on a bunt single in the first but Abby Beasley grounded into an inning-ending double play. In the fourth, Beasley walked and Taylor Underwood advanced her with a sacrifice bunt. However, Beasley rounded second and tried to catch the Pinnacle defense napping and was tagged out at third on a strong throw from second baseman Emily Hodges.
Pioneer pitcher Jenna Makis allowed just three hits and one run, which came in the fifth when Jazminn Garcia scored on an RBI groundout by Makaylah Miller, which turned into a double play. Miller bunted to Makis who went home to get Samantha Munoz, then Dallas fired down to first to nab Miller who strayed too far off the bag. While she worked the run down, Garcia came around for the run.
It wouldn’t make much difference after Pinnacle opened the flood games in its half of the fifth. The Pioneers scored five times on a Palmer triple, an Alley Gens double and a two-RBI single by Makis.
The senior pitcher finished with four strikeouts and two walks. Her bat also provided a spark for a Pinnacle squad that was blanked Tuesday by Deer Valley’s Lauren Haeger. Makis and her battery mate, Dallas, combined to go 4-for-6 with a double, four runs scored and three RBI.
Pinnacle will face No. 13 Westview at 10 a.m. Saturday at Sandra Day O’Connor high School.
“I have no remorse over how the kids played today,” Repak said. “We just didn’t hit today. I am really pleased from where we came from. I came in with guarded optimism and the kids exceeded their performance.”