After a rocky start, Gilbert freshman Lynsey Duncan settled down on the mound, until one mistake proved a bit too costly.
Peoria Centennial's Abby Beasley – after aggravating a sprained ankle earlier in the game – came back off the bench to hit a sixth-inning grand slam that proved to be the game winner in the Tigers’ 10-7 loss in the loser’s bracket of the Division I state softball tournament at Rose Mofford Softball Complex in Phoenix on Saturday afternoon.
No. 4 Gilbert, which had to fight through the loser’s bracket last year to reach the semifinal, finished the season 27-7.
Beasley’s 13th homer of the season came after Gilbert had bounced back from a 6-0 deficit to score seven runs in the bottom of the fifth.
“The girls rallied and pulled it together,” said Gilbert coach Shaundra Gutierrez. “Unfortunately they got that one big hit after that inning. The cards just didn’t fall the way they were supposed to today.”
With the win, the eighth-seeded Coyotes (28-6) move to a Tuesday night elimination game against No. 6 Horizon at 6:30 p.m. at Rose Mofford. Horizon lost, 2-1, on Saturday to No. 2 Red Mountain to fall into the loser’s bracket. Either team would have to win three games in four nights to reach the May 14 state title game.
“I couldn’t get any of my pitches over,” Gilbert starter Lynsey Duncan said. “I just worked with it and found my strike zone.”
After giving up six runs in the first two innings, Duncan retired 10 of the next 12 to come to the plate. The Tigers’ big inning gave her a 7-6 lead after five.
But in the top of the sixth, Duncan hit Centennial leadoff hitter Destinee Luna, allowed an infield hit to Makaylah Petro and then walked Skylar McCarty.
Beasley had left the game in the second when she stepped into a hole near first trying to run out a ground ball. She had aggravated a sprained ankle she suffered late in the regular season, she said. She was on the ground for a while and then limped back into the dugout, where she stayed under Repak’s orders.
“I was kind of angry because I wanted to get back into the game but (Repak) said he wanted to hold me until he needed me to bat,” Beasley said. “One pitch and there goes the ball.”
Repak called on Beasley in that sixth with the bases loaded. She got her pitch.
“It was kind of a curve but she just got a hold of it,” Duncan said.
The long shot to right field took away any momentum Gilbert had gained. Centennial reliever Hannah Andersen worked out of a jam in the sixth after gave up a single in the seventh but got Alexa Redman to ground into a double play to end the game, eliminating the Tigers.
Centennial raced out to an early lead, taking advantage of a wild Duncan. The Gilbert freshman walked three in the first before Jazzmin Garcia singled in a run and Samantha Munoz knocked in another with a ground ball.
In the second, the Coyotes batted around, scoring four times on four hits and again taking advantage of Gilbert miscues. Two Tiger errors helped Centennial in the inning. Again, Garcia knocked in a run with a hit and it all started with a single by Coyote starter Paige Mills and a bunt hit by Avianna Davis.
Mills cruised for the first four innings. With the help of a double play, she faced the minimum 12 batters through four. But Marisa Stankiewicz doubled to start the fifth, went to third on a wild pitch and scored when Redman reached on an error. Mills walked Mackensie Garretson and then Elysia Mesa followed with a two-run double. Dani Bartholf drove in another run with a single and Alex Astorga sacrificed a run in. Taylor McCord singled and later scored on an error and Dani Nelson put the Tigers ahead with a run-scoring single.