YUMA, Ariz. – On Tuesday afternoon, the Arizona Western College softball team fell to Eastern Arizona College twice. In game one, the Lady Mats had a rally cut short in the seventh to fall 7-6, and the team lost 11-6 in game two.
Arizona Western (22-11 overall, 14-10 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) almost finished off a six-run comeback in the seventh inning of game one. Down 7-5, Hailey Cookson led off with a double to left-center field. She went to third on a groundout. After Jessica Alvarez walked, Caylin Espericueta scored Cookson with a line drive single to left field that trimmed the lead to 7-6. Alvarez represented the tying run at second with one out, but she was eliminated on a questionable call of leaving early for the second out. A pop-up ended the game.
The rally started in the sixth inning when the Lady Mats turned a six-run deficit to two. Alisha Diaz singled, and two batters later Julie Roach also singled. Alvarez whacked home Diaz with a double. Alvarez went to second, and Roach came home on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 7-3. Espericueta walked, and Erika Mercado also drew ball four to load the bases with two outs. Samantha Jara Villegas came in to pinch-hit and walked to make it 7-4. Sally Gastelo also walked to score Espericueta and make it 7-5.
At the start of the game, Arizona Western took the lead in the bottom of the first inning. With a runner on second, Cookson ripped a double for a 1-0 lead.
Eastern Arizona (23-10 overall, 17-7 ACCAC) answered with a pair of runs in the second. Emma Kawaiaea smoked a two-run, two-out double down the right field line for a 2-1 lead.
In the third inning, the Gila Monsters scored five times despite only managing two hits. With a runner on first, Victoria Brito swatted a home run to left field for a 4-1 lead. It was her fourth homer of the season. With two on and two outs, Hope Casarez drew a walk that loaded the bases. Kawaiaea followed it with a walk that pushed the lead to 5-1. Czarina Lorta hit a two-run single to right-center field to make it 7-1.
Isabelle Mejia (5-3) earned the win in the circle for Eastern Arizona. She allowed five runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. Mejia walked four while striking out four. Kendall Rauk earned the save after going 1.1 innings while allowing one run on two hits with one walk.
Belinda Gonzalez (12-6) took the loss after allowing seven runs on five hits in three innings. She walked five while striking out three. Hailey Cookson came on in relief at the start of the fourth inning and didn’t allow a run.
In game two, both sides came out hot at the plate early. Brito singled home two runs for Eastern Arizona and went to second on the throw home. Mejia then lined a single to center that scored Brito and made it 3-0.
AWC answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. With the bases loaded, Nadia Hernandez hit a grounder through the right side that scored two to make it 3-2.
In the top of the second, Casarez sent a line drive to right field for a double, and Kawaiaea singled. Lorta hit a liner down the left field line to score both runners and push the lead to 5-2.
The Lady Mats matched the runs in the bottom of the second. With two outs and two on, Cookson knocked a double off the right-center field wall that scored both runners and made it 5-4.
Eastern responded with two more runs in the third inning. With Mejia on first, Rauk hit a double to left field that snuck behind everyone to score Mejia. Shawneece Jones grounded one to short, but an error put runners on the corners. With one out, Casarez hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Rauk and make it 7-4.
Arizone Western scratched one run across in the fourth inning. Diaz walked and went to second on a passed ball. Gastelo hit a grounder up the middle for an infield single, and a wide throw to first sent her to second while Diaz raced home to cut the lead to 7-5.
The Gila Monsters broke the game open in the fifth. Mejia led off with a solo homer, her ninth of the season, to make it 8-5. A walk and two singles then loaded the bases with one out. Two batters later, Lorta lined a single through the left side of the infield to score two runs. Sala Pedebone hit a line drive single up the middle to score one more for an 11-6 lead.
Julie Roach gave the Lady Mats one run with one swing of the bat in the fifth inning. She led off the bottom of the inning with a solo home run to left-center field that cut the lead to 11-6. It was her 11th homer of the season.
Brianna Arroyo (2-1) earned the win for Eastern Arizona. She came on in relief to start the fourth inning and only allowed two runs on two hits in four innings of work. She walked one. Taya Mortensen started the game and left after three innings. She gave up four runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out one.
Karly Turner (2-3) took the loss for AWC. She allowed three runs and was only able to record one out. Turner gave up two hits.
AWC heads to Pima Community College on Saturday afternoon for a doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for noon.
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma. AWC leads the state in enrollment growth over the past 10 years and handed out more than 2,400 certificates and degrees in 2015-16.