It wasn’t unfamiliar.
Behind near-flawless defense, hitting with runners in scoring position and deceptive pitching, perennial softball power Basha defeated Gilbert, 5-2, to win the prestigious Lion Country Classic softball tournament at Red Mountain on Saturday.
Bears infielder Courtney Hiruko went 4-for-4, while pitcher Kailey Regester struck out seven in seven innings and allowed just six hits.
Basha won three games on the day, defeating Saguaro and Desert Ridge before moving on to the championship game.
At times, Basha made it look easy.
“We got good pitching from everybody, timely hitting and we played good defense,” Bears coach Scott Hoffmeyer. “We’re just trying to win each game we play.”
Of the seven games the Bears played in, Regester pitched in four. Her ability to change speeds vexed Tigers' hitters, who either fired their hands and wrists too early which hooked the ball foul, swung late against fastballs, or waited a bit too long on Regester’s changeup.
“We can get better with everything,” Hoffmeyer said of his pitcher’s performance. “So, we’ll keep working on that but we’re happy with the team win.”
Lynea Klemddson and Kelsey Tidwell also pitched for the Bears during the tournament, helping Basha win at least two pitching duels over the course of the week.
Offensively, Hiruko was the catalyst.
She led off the game with a single to left field and scored when Kylie Shull knocked a two-run hit past the third baseman.
In the top of the second, Hiruko smashed a ball into the right-center field gap for an RBI double, though she was tagged out trying to extend it to a triple.
She singled again in the top of the fifth, this time making it safely to third base after an error. She finished the contest with another hit up the middle.
Hiruko’s spray chart looked like a well-played board in a game of battleship, with shots fired in four different zones, each spaced out almost perfectly from one another.
“I just try to see the ball and hit it,” Hiruko said. “I look for the gaps and I aim for them. If the ball is on the inside I go for the left side (of the field), and when it’s outside I go for right (field).”
Glendale Deer Valley was the consolation bracket winner, while upstart Desert Ridge continued its strong start with a third-place finish overall. Corona del Sol also finished in seventh place in the tournament.