YUMA, Ariz. – The Arizona Western College softball team picked itself up off the mat after an 8-0 loss in six innings in game one on Tuesday afternoon. The Lady Mats came out with energy at the start of game two and never folded in a 6-3 win over preseason second-ranked Phoenix College.
It seemed like Phoenix (10-2 overall, 8-2 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) was going to stay hot and knock in more runs when Alyssa Fernandez smacked a solo home run to start the game. It was her fourth homer of the season.
AWC pitcher Karly Turner (1-1) settled in and retired eight straight though, and her offense came to life after struggling in game one. She picked up her first win of the season after allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits. The sophomore pitched into the sixth inning and struck out two while walking one.
After Phoenix took the lead, AWC (13-6 overall, 9-5 ACCAC) immediately answered in the bottom of the first. With Allison Betty on second, Hailey Cookson whacked a double to left-center field to make it 1-1. Julie Roach scored Cookson with an RBI single to right field for a 2-1 lead. Roach went 3-3 with two RBI and a run scored in game two.
Phoenix tied the game in the fourth inning. With runners on second and third, Arryana Bracamonte hit a deep sacrifice fly to right field.
In the bottom half of the inning, AWC retook the lead. Espericueta doubled down the right field line and went to third on a Sally Gastelo single. After Samantha Jara Villegas walked to load the bases, Betty lined a single up the middle to score one for a 3-2 lead.
The Bears scraped together a run in the fifth inning. With a runner on second and two outs, Dustie Durham whapped a double to right field that tied the game at three.
Once again, the Lady Mats responded in the bottom of the inning. Roach singled and went to second on a groundout. With two outs, Espericueta hit a double down the left field line to make it 4-3. She came home when Isabel Sanchez smoked a grounder just past a diving Monique Castillo at third base for a 5-3 lead. Espericueta went 2-3 with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI.
AWC added an insurance run in the sixth. Cookson reached on a fielder’s choice, and Roach doubled her home for a 6-3 lead.
Betty went 2-2 with a run scored, two walks and an RBI in the game.
Nadia Hernandez came on to pitch for the Lady Mats in the sixth inning, and she earned her first save of the season. She pitched two innings and only allowed one hit.
Stevie McLemore (2-2) took the loss for Phoenix. She allowed five runs on 12 hits in 4.2 innings while striking out four.
In game one, Phoenix jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning. With two on, Castillo hit a double that just barely avoided going over the left field fence to score both runners. She went to third on the throw to home and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brooke Breeland.
Phoenix added two more in the fifth inning. With two outs, McLemore drew a walk before Samantha Rea hit a home run for a 5-0 lead. It was Rea’s third home run of the season.
The Bears rallied with two outs again in the sixth inning. Durham came up with runners on second and third and tripled to right field to score both. She came home when McLemore dribbled a little infield single in front of home plate to make it 8-0.
AWC had a chance to extend the game in the bottom of the sixth after loading the bases with no outs, but the Lady Mats struck out three straight times to end the game.
Durham (5-0) earned the win for Phoenix after only allowing four hits in six innings. She struck out five without issuing a walk.
Belinda Gonzalez (7-3) took the loss for Arizona Western after allowing eight runs on 10 hits in six innings. She walked four and struck out five.
AWC heads out to Yavapai College on Saturday. The doubleheader is scheduled to start at 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.