|Coach Debbi Miller hugs Danya Weir after her triple. |
|Madison Garcia connects while at bat. VVN/Travis Guy|
Camp Verde softball secured its spot in the playoffs following a 13-3 pounding of Sedona Red Rock, but up to that point, it was difficult to tell if the girls would qualify.
The Cowboys earned a No. 20 seed and will face No. 13 Tuba City in the first round.
Despite the difference in ranking, both teams mirror each other by not holding any one signature win over tournament team. The Cowboys swept its season series against Chino Valley, No. 23, and the Warriors beat No. 24 Monument Valley in a double-header.
The thing that does separate these teams is the completion they played through the season. Tuba City only had two close games against a top-ranked team in No. 11 Window Rock. The rest of the games against teams with a higher seed in the playoffs, the Warriors were typically blown out, only managing eight runs in those lopsided games. Tuba City is currently riding a 16-game win streak going into the playoffs, but all of the wins come against teams ranked below them.
Camp Verde may not have that one signature win on its' resume, but what the girls do have is the confidence that they are able to play against top teams. The first time the Cowboys met Bradshaw Mountain this season, they lost by three. When they squared off against No. 9 Round Valley, again, a three run loss. No. 7 Snowflake also won by three and in the first games against Mingus Union and Payson, softball lost by one run, and even took the Longhorns into extra innings.
While a loss is a loss, whether it be by one run or 10, the point is that softball is right on the edge. If they are to get over the edge, it is going to start with Tuba City and its inflated schedule, but the girls have to shore up some basics and find the energy and intensity from when they first played Payson and Mingus, not the second time they met those schools.
The basics the Cowboys need to work on are on defense. Offensively, they are a producing team. They have a little trouble with faster pitchers, as seen in the 9-0 loss to Payson, but can still get girls on base. Sometimes bringing the girls home and scoring runs cause issues, like in the Sedona Red Rock game. In the first inning, the Cowboys had bases loaded, but were not able to score a run until the third inning. Senior Shelby Mulcaire is one of the power hitters for the Cowboys, slamming six home runs through regular season, and has shown the capability to spark the offense, along with Danya Weir and Paige Church.
Sophomore pitcher Madison Garcia has missed very few games this season, looked strong during long stretches and when given a few days rest, is able to be one of the better pitchers. She is aided by quality infielding and outfielding, but this is the area that Camp Verde tends to make most of its mistakes.
The main mistake on defense is one that can be easily fixed. They can be out of position to catch balls, whether being hit to them or thrown, which causes an extra run or two to go in. If the girls hope to beat Tuba City, which is possible, they need to eliminate, or at least reduce, the amount of simple errors they make.
If the team is able to change that and reduce, or eliminate, the errors, that could spark the offense because the Cowboys are a very emotional team that feeds off the energy they produce for each other more so than other teams.
Like what was stated above, the softball team should be able to get by Tuba City. The Warriors have a better seeding because they have been playing less quality opponents. IF the Cowboys do make it past the first round, they will square off against No. 4 Benson High School.
Round one begins May 2 at 6 p.m. at the Rose Mofford Softball Complex. If the girls do end up facing Benson after Tuba City, they will play May 3 at 6 p.m. at the same venue.