If anybody was figuring that the Red Mountain softball run would end after three years, think again.
The sixth-seeded Lions look ready for another state title shot after a 5-1 win Wednesday night over No. 14 Chaparral in the third round of the Division I state softball tournament at the Rose Mofford complex in Phoenix.
Red Mountain faces Desert Ridge, who has beaten the Lions twice this season, on Monday night at 6:30 p.m. at Rose Mofford. Two more wins puts a winner’s bracket team in the May 13 championship game.
Chaparral falls to the loser’s bracket and will face Vail Cienega on Saturday morning in an elimination game.
Ace Bre Macha survived a rocky first inning, pitched out a jam and ended up allowing five hits, striking out eight and walking two. She also added a two-run shot to left in the bottom of the first that gave Red Mountain the lead for good.
“She lives for us, she wants this,” Red Mountain coach Rich Hamilton said. “She’s a big time pitcher, she’s going to go to a big time school. She likes the pressure. She really does and she performs well.”
“I felt really good today, I pitched yesterday (Tuesday) so I was pretty loose from that,” Macha said. “Coming here, I have a lot of friends who are on that team so I got to show them something.”
The Firebirds couldn’t get another rally going against Macha, getting only one runner as far as third after the first.
“That’s a team right there who, in the state tournament, they know how to win,” said Chaparral coach Stephanie Ewing. “They have kids that know how to come through. We did not come through in big situations.”
In the fourth, Chaparral centerfielder Ashtyn Coleman hit a bloop double to lead off the inning. Lauren LaTerra bunted Coleman to third but then Macha struck out Kendra Coleman and Blakley Koziol to end the threat.
Red Mountain got all the runs they would need in the first. Alyssa Fernandez led off with a single and one out later, Macha homered. Catcher Jordan Beck followed with a shot of her own, to the opposite field, giving the Lions a 3-1 lead.
“We were down 1-0, so I had come back and try rally our team,” Macha said. “We did it.”
Red Mountain hit the ball hard off Firebird starter Dallas McBride and got the bases loaded in third but did not score. They loaded them again the fourth but Macha hit a fly ball to right and Alex Wiley was thrown out trying to score. Still, Beck followed with a two-run single and Macha had some breathing room.
“We knew what we were going to get,” Hamilton said. “We worked hard in the (batting) cage today, we knew if we could make that strike zone a little bit smaller, if we didn’t swing at pitches out of the zone, we would get some hits. That worked out today.”
Chaparral started well as Alana Anderson reached on a squibbed single to lead off the game, stole second and went to third on a bloop single by McBride. Anderson scored on a grounder by Ashtyn Coleman but then Macha struck out LaTerra and scattered three hits the rest of the way.
Fernandez ended up with three hits and Beck was 3-for-4 with a homer, a double and three runs driven in.