YUMA, Ariz. – A pair of big innings proved to be too much for the Arizona Western College softball team to dig out of on Saturday afternoon in Yuma. The Lady Mats (40-19 overall, 34-14 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) lost to ninth-ranked Eastern Arizona College (49-10 overall, 40-8 ACCAC) 9-5 and 14-4 (in six innings). A five run second inning by Eastern dug the hole in game one, and a five run fourth inning put the game out of reach in game two. The losses had no bearing on the conference playoff picture though as both teams were already locked into their seeds..
In the first game, a five-run second inning spotted EAC an early lead. Sala Pedebone led off with a double and scored on a Claudio Lopez single. With two on and one out a few batters later, Alyssa Salud-Mendoza hit a two-run double to left-center field for a 3-0 lead. Lena Kotrys smacked a home run to right field one batter later to make it 5-0.
Kotrys did it again in the fourth with a two-run home run to extend the Eastern Arizona lead to 7-0.
AWC rallied in the bottom of the fourth. A walk and double put two on, and Danielle Burgos chopped a home run to left field. Her three-run bomb cut the lead to 7-3, and it was her sixth homer of the season.
Eastern added a run in the fifth on an RBI single by Bailey Rominger that made it 8-3.
In the seventh, Pedebone doubled in a run to put EAC up 9-3.
The Lady Mats rallied for a pair of runs in the ninth. Sam Jara Villegas hit a single, and an error at short allowed Aylin Campa to reach. Caylin Espericueta was hit on an 0-2 pitch to load the bases with two outs, and Allison Betty lined a ball to centerfield. EAC’s Lopez dropped it, and two runs scored to cut the lead to 9-5.
Nadia Hernandez (0-1) took the loss in the circle. She allowed five runs on four hits in 1.1 innings while walking one and striking out two.
In game two, the Lady Mats took the lead in the bottom of the first inning. Makenna Stram led off with a single before Aylin Campa sacrificed her to second. Allison Betty poked a grounder up the middle to send Stram home for a 1-0 lead.
EAC tied it up with three infield singles in the bottom of the second. Rominger had the RBI bunt with runners on second and third and one out that made it 1-1.
In the third, EAC took advantage of an Arizona Western error when Kotrys hit a fly ball that Isabel Sanchez dropped in left field. Kotrys went to third and scored on a sac fly one batter later to put EAC up 2-1. Vesi Liilii and Pedebone cranked back-to-back solo homers to put the Gila Monsters up 4-1. It was Liilii’s 10th and Pedebone’s 12th homer this year.
A five run fourth inning allowed Eastern Arizona to crack the game open. Kotrys doubled home a run. After a single put runners at first and third, Taylor Hollestelle tripled in two runs. Liilii doubled home another run and then stole third. A poor throw on the play allowed her to score to push the lead to 9-1.
AWC seemed poised for a rally when Betty led off with a solo home run to start the bottom of the fourth. It was her seventh homer of the year. Jessica Alvarez singled, but a 5-4-3 double play snuffed the momentum before it gained steam.
The Gila Monsters added two runs in the fifth on an RBI single by Kotrys and an RBI double by Liilii to make it 11-2.
AWC extended the game with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Michelle Roldan led off with a double, and Yassiel Lazo hit a shallow line drive double to left field that scored Roldan. Stram snuck a line drive single up the middle that sent Lazo home, and the Lady Mats trailed 11-4 after four innings.
Kotrys launched a three-run home run in the sixth inning to put EAC up 14-4. It was her third home run of the day and 10th of the season.
Stram (21-9) took the loss in the circle after coming on in relief of Koryne Coddington in the circle to start the third inning. She allowed three runs, none earned, on two hits without a walk or strikeout in 0.2 innings.
AWC and Eastern Arizona will be play each other again to start the first round of the Region I Tournament on Friday, May 4 at 9:00 a.m. AWC finished as the third seed, and EAC was second. The tournament is a double elimination tournament and will be held at top-seeded Yavapai College (Prescott, Ariz.).
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 2,300 certificates and degrees in 2016-17.