It took an extra inning for the Mustang Softball team to clinch the win over cross-state rival Eastern New Mexico. The Mustangs battled through chilly conditions to earn the 4-3 win and take game one of the series in exciting fashion.
It was a battle from the beginning as Julia Vega (Tucson, AZ/University High School) took to the mound, striking out the first and third batters. A walk, followed by a double from Jennifer McElroy drove in the first run for the Greyhounds.
After a quick Mustang half of the inning, Vega grabbed her third strikeout before assisting with the second. This time Kayla Marshall smashed a double to left field, scoring one more run for the Greyhounds taking a 2-0 lead.
A single from Carolyn Castillo (Silver City, NM/Silver City), followed by a double from Makayla Guerra (Silver City, N.M/Silver High School) put Western in scoring position but were left stranded. The team did make it up on the defensive end, forcing a double-play to keep Eastern scoreless.
Savvy base running by Tycee Coplan (Taylor, AZ/Snowflake) and a single from Marina Garcia (Tucson, AZ/Desert View High School) brought in the first run for the Mustangs. Fast forward to the bottom of the fifth, Ariana Maldonado (Albuquerque, NM/Cibola) came up big with a solo shot to right center to tie the game at two.
Eastern proved to stay in it till the end, recording another double in the top of the sixth to take the 3-2 lead.
Bottom of the seventh. One out, enter Ariana Maldonado (Albuquerque, NM/Cibola). It only took one pitch for the senior to hit her second homerun of the day this time over the left field wall, to yet again tie the game and force extra innings.
Jayln McClain (El Centro, CA) came in to close, striking out two before playing a grounder to first for the third out.
Grisdey Paredes – Alvarez was hit by pitch to put the winning run on base. Coplan reached on an error by the third baseman, advancing to second as the ball trickled into the outfield allowing Alvarez to head to third. With Garcia up to bat, a single was all that was needed to win the game. A shot to the short stop and Alvarez was on the move, sliding home for the win.
Credit Jayln McClain (El Centro, CA) with the win, her second of the season allowing just two hits while striking out three.
Maldonado finished 2-for-4 on the day, both solo homeruns and coming at crucial times in the game. Garcia, Castillo, Guerra and Miranda Simjian (Humboldt, Arizona/Prescott High School) added two of their own as the Mustangs tallied 11 hits on the day to Eastern's 8.