|Shelby Mulcaire nails her sixth home run of the season. |
|Taylor Hicks pitching in the Cowboys' 8–7 win over Sedona Red Rock. VVN/Travis Guy|
It was setup almost like a movie. The Camp Verde Cowboys' baseball and softball teams were both coming off losses to Payson High School and were in must win situations if they had any hopes of making it to the state playoffs ... and it was senior night.
Like any movie would have ended, or hit its climax, both teams scored dominant victories to more than likely secure spots to continue their seasons.
If this was only the climax to the movie, next week at state will be the final chapter, and the boys and girls will decide whether it is a movie with a happy ending or a tragic one.
The boys came out to show that their previous game against Sedona Red Rock, a 9-5 loss, was not a measure of how they really played. They did just that by jumping out to a 7-0 lead after four innings, and finished the game 10-5 in six and a half innings.
"The seniors came to life today and killed the ball all day long," said head coach Will Davis. "That was their best pitcher, so it was nice to get 10 runs off of him. We clean up that one big inning we always give up, we'll have a shot if we get in the playoffs."
The team tallied nine hits, one more than the Scorpions, but of those nine hits, seven were RBI's. Senior pitcher Taylor Hicks put an exclamation point on his final home game, going 2-for-3 at the plate with one triple, two RBI's and two runs. Fellow senior Jesse Fullbright was close behind home with a .500 batting average through four at-bats with two runs.
Camp Verde finished the game with a .290 batting average, going 9-for-31, but it was more than enough for the boys to get past the Scorpions, who were held until the fifth inning.
"They beat us last time, so the fire was inside of us," Jesse said. "We played a terrible game against them last time and we really wanted this win. Coming into it, we were mentally focused, everybody wanted to hit the ball and everybody just executed."
In the fifth, Sedona was able to put up five runs on Taylor, but only three were earned. The Cowboys committed three errors, but it did not doom them to another loss like previous games.
Taylor pitched all seven innings, giving his fans a quality show. The senior notched five strikeouts, two walks and eight hits against 33 batters, throwing a total of 97 pitches.
"It means a lot. It's definitely emotional. I can't really soak it in; it feels just like another game. I'm sure once the seasons over, ill actually feel it," Taylor said.
The baseball team ends its' regular season with a 12-14-1 record and are currently No. 24 in Division-III at the time of this writing.
"It's been a fun year. If we get in, that's great, if we don't, then OK," Davis said. "[If we do make it, we need to] play like we did today. We have a chance if we play clean baseball, we hit the ball, we have a chance. We field the ball and don't make a lot of mistakes, that's key."
The softball team started things off a little differently than the baseball team did. After the first inning, the Scorpions were up 1-0 after one of three Cowboy errors through the whole game and Camp Verde cruised past the Scorpions 13-3.
"The difference was that this game had more heart to it, because its saying goodbye to our seniors and its kind of our do-or-die game," said senior Reavan Martinez. "Everyone wants to go to state and I think everyone just came out head strong."
In the teams first meeting of the season, the Scorpions edged the Cowboys 9-8. This time around, the girls were fired up because they knew what a win would bring them and they wanted to send their seniors out with a win.
"We came back and I told them last night, 'guys, now it's our turn to do the same thing to Sedona, that's we have to do to get to state,'" said head coach Debbi Miller. "When we came out today, we just said 'hey, we've played them before, we know how she pitches, just hit the ball.' They did, they came ready to just pound the ball and they did a great job."
Madison Garcia took to the mound as usual and only let the Scorpions have four hits and one earned run. The sophomore struck out three batters with no walks against 23 Scorpions.
After the first inning, the girls were able to adjust their game and play how they wanted to play. The Cowboys connected at the plate 14 times, which included two seniors earning big hits in their last home appearance.
Reavan hit a triple and Shelby Mulcaire nailed her sixth home run of the season. Both the girls were part of the offense that finished the game with a .518 batting average. On top of her home run, Shelby also had a double and single.
"It felt pretty good," Shelby said. "My hands been killing me and, I don't know, it felt good [to hit a home run]."
Going into the game, the girls were ranked No. 21 in D-III, meaning that they were probably safe with a loss, but a win would almost secure them a spot. The girls finished with a 13-12-1 record on the season, including a 5-4 home record.
"We've all had our ups-and-downs, but in the end we're still a family," Reavan said.
Shelby added, "It's been a blast."
The baseball playoffs begin on April 30 at 4 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. at the Surprise Sports Complex in Surprise. The girls begin two days later on May 2 at 6 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. at Rose Mofford Stadium Complex in Phoenix.
"I can't be happier. This is a great win to finish with, to build us up to go into the first round of state next week," Miller said. "It's a great accomplishment for us. In the twenty years I've been here, last year was only the second time we hadn't gone to state. Its good to be back and we'll just go from there."