5/7/2013 1:11:00 PM Softball almost completes comeback against Benson, falls short of advancing The Cowboys upset Tuba City in first round of playoffs, not able to do the same in second round against No. 4 seed
Shelby Boler slides into home plate to score the game winning run against Tuba City.
Camp Verde softball celebrates after upsetting Tuba City 3–2. VVN/Travis Guy
The Camp Verde softball team had one of its best defensive showings of the season and got past the Tuba City Warriors 3-2 in a game that went down to the wire.
"Oh my gosh, unbelievable. What do you say? I mean it was a great game, a comeback," said head coach Debbi Miller.
With the game tied at two in the seventh inning, junior Shelby Boler slid head first into home when the catcher missed the throw, putting the Cowboys up by one run.
"[I was thinking] I'm not fast enough to make it with a normal slide, so I had to go head first," Shelby said.
When the Warriors went up for their final at bat, they were shut down. One runner was thrown at first after Shelby connected with first baseman Paige Church. The next batter popped a ball up to Caitlin Harris. Madison Garcia struck out the final batter in four pitches.
Up to that point, the game was a duel between two teams trying to move on and keep their season going.
"I couldn't have asked for more," Miller said. "It was a tough game, a little bit tougher than I thought it was going to be, I knew they had a really good pitcher and I think we struggled a little bit on the rise, she had a really good rise ball, but we finally came around and I can't be happier. I'm just ecstatic. That's what we wanted to do, win the first round and from here on out we keep trying and keep plugging away."
The first three innings were scoreless as both teams battled for the advantage and in the fourth the Cowboys gained the upper hand. Catcher Danya Weir was up to bat, and during a Tuba City time out, was talking to Miller and told her she wanted to bunt. With Sharli MacDonald on third, the head coach said okay. Danya proceeded to hit the bunt and as Sharli scored the first run of the game, the throw to first came in late and the catcher was safe.
"I just went to a Yavapai camp and we were working on bunts and bunts and bunts, and I knew, when I was watching the defense, I knew they were pinching in, saw a good gap and knew I could drive it there with a bunt, so I was really confident in that and knew I could score my teammate in," Danya said.
Tuba City scored both of its two runs in the fifth inning, but only one was earned, and the Warriors were not able to get on the board for the rest of the game. Madison only allowed six hits through seven innings and threw 10 strikeouts with no walks against 26 batters.
"We played really good. Madison did a great job pitching too," Miller said. "I don't know that all of their players were strong hitters, but they kept in there and Madison did a great job of keeping the ball away from them, even from their No. 22 [Tuba City's strongest hitter] ... I think she only got a single or a double, so we kept her at bay and that worked really good. I'm just really happy, really happy and the girls are really happy too."
The Cowboys had almost the same showing offensively than the Warriors, but edged them by one hit. Of Camp Verde's seven hits, Madison and Sharli led the way with two each while visiting the plate three times.
After the Tuba City upset, the girls faced-off against the No. 4 seed Benson Bobcats. But unlike the game against the Warriors, there was no game-winning run that was scored for the Cowboys. There was a comeback, but Camp Verde was stopped short of advancing to the quarterfinals.
"They just amazed me again. Its a heart breaker, but you can't ask anything more," Miller said. "We were down 4-0 and came back [to make it] a 4-3 game, it could have been a 4-4 game if Sharli would have slid in. I think it she thought the ball was out further than it was, it was just one of those things. "
In the sixth inning, with the Cowboys down, both Paige Church and Madison scored runs. Madison was batted in by Taya Smith and Paige was able to steal home off an error while Danya was up to bat. Sharli almost scored another run for the Cowboys, but was tagged out as she reached the plate in what would have been the game-tying run.
"It was nice because we made an attempt and came back, but its kind of bumming because we're ending the season this way, going out by one," Madison said.
Madison faced 26 Bobcats and recorded four strikes against seven hits. The sophomore did not allow any walks again and only three of Benson's four runs were earned. Likewise, Camp Verde earned one run off an error.
Offensively, the Cowboys had an almost identical game as the contest against the Warriors. Camp Verde tallied six hits with Sharli leading the way. The sophomore hit a single and a triple, and was the only player from Camp Verde to connect with the ball more than once. Paige Church, Danya, Madison and Taya Smith each had one hit.
Camp Verde did what it has done all year, play good teams extremely close. The girls did it with Payson, Mingus Union, Round Valley and Snowflake. Going into the summer, Miller will be joined by most of the girls for a summer league team and with that experience, they hope to build up the confidence and hitting required to take the next step.
"To take the next step, [we need to] have more confidence in ourselves," Madison said. "When we go up with two outs and think 'oh my gosh, I'm ending it for us, we lost the game.' We go in with that mentality, so we already lost the game, because of their mind set, thinking I'm going to get out."
While the girls' season is over, the team will be losing only four seniors and the rest of the team is returning. That means the Cowboys will have the core group of Madison Garcia, Paige Church, Danya Weir, Hailey Teague and Shelby Boler. Miller will have Dusty Dowdle and Taya to aid Madison and add some depth to the Cowboys rotation. With a summer of travel ball to help the girls become more of a team, the Cowboys should be a force next season.
"We fought every inning," Miller said. "I would have really liked to have won, but I think we showed everybody we can hang with the big schools, most of them ... we're going to be there [at the top], this next year and the year after, we're going to be there again"