YUMA, Ariz. –Whether its viewed as a three-game winning streak or winning a three-game series against one of the teams against the country, the Arizona Western College Lady Matadors won three games Saturday afternoon on Charlie Dine Field in order to advance to the NJCAA National Tournament in St. George Utah.
The Matadors first National appearance in five years came, in perhaps, the toughest fashion in the programs history by winning three consecutive games—all while facing elimination.
In the first game of the day, the Matadors fell behind the Pima Aztecs 2-0 in the first inning.
Arizona Western’s offense resembled much of what it has been early in the season by responding immediately. Sabrina Garcia and Aylin Campa both singled before scoring on Cassandra Valle and Michelle Roldan’s singles respectively.
The Mats took the lead for good on Danielle Burgos’ bases loaded double in the second and closed out the win with a six run fourth inning. After Allie Tito, Campa and Burgos all singled with one-out, Michelle Roldan and Andrea Cline both drove in runs prior to Reina Tsuma’s two-run double opening up the lead. Nicole Moran added a two run single to close a six-run inning.
Sarah Velasquez held the Aztecs in check after the early inning, finishing with five scoreless as the Matadors sealed an 11-2 victory to advance to a re-match with the Central Arizona Vaqueras in the championship round.
While Central had snagged a slugfest on Friday, the first part of the re-match left much less margin for error.
Central starter Trinity Valentine took advantage of the Vaqueras striking first and maintained a 2-0 lead into the fourth inning.
Makiya Thomas doubled against the Matador starter Koryne Coddington in the first and advanced after Justeen Vasquez singled. Evelyn Roman delivered an RBI single and Sonia Solis’ sac fly built the lead.
It stayed that way until the fourth inning when Cassandra Valle’s double setup an RBI single from Michelle Roldan RBI single to cut the lead in half.
The Matadors mamde their move against Valentine when Burgos dropped in a single before Valle spun a bunt single against the chalk along the baseline on the first-base side. Cline tucked a double down the left field line to push the Matadors in front.
The Vaqueras turned to their ace, Baylee Eaton, once they lost the lead but the Matadors continued to attack. With two more reaching, Tsuma delivered a two-run double, and eventually scored herself on Campa’s sac fly.
That would be enough for the Matador starter Coddington to seal the 7-2 win and force an additional game in the Championship round.
The surprise turned out to be another start from Coddington in the deciding game of the Region I Playoffs.
Coddington tight-roped through a couple of sticky situations in the first two-innings but was matched by Eaton, who started the elimination game for CAC.
The Matadors left five in the first two innings before Central opened the scoring.
Isabel Gallo started the wild third inning with a single and was joined on the bases by Vasquez. With two-outs Aliya Ewell doubled home both runners to open the scoring.
Arizona Western answered in the bottom of the inning against Eaton.
Campa sparked the inning with a line-drive over the fence in right-center field to cut the deficit in half for the Matadors.
Burgos, the next batter, ripped a double. Two-outs later, Cline drove home Burgos with another hit to tie the game. After Nicole Moran drew a walk, Allie Tito continued her hot-streak with a single to plate the pinch-runner Karina Guerra. Tsuma then brought home the remaining two runners to complete a five-run inning.
While the Matadors would threaten again in the fourth against Eaton, neither team would score in the fourth, fifth or sixth innings.
The Matadors maintained the 5-2 lead into the seventh inning with Coddington continuing her stellar afternoon in the circle for AWC.
While Coddington retired the first batter of the inning, two walks setup a potential game-tying situation.
Coddington got Ewell to ground to shortstop where the Matadors forced out the lead runner at third.
With two-outs, the Matadors defensive error allowed the Vaqueras to load the bases. But Coddington induced a fly-out to Campa in left-field securing the Region I Championship, a trip to St. George, Utah and their third win of the day.
Coddington earned the Region I tournament MVP honors after tossing 14 innings and just 4 total earned runs to position the Matador offense to get to work.
Arizona Western improves to 54-10 on the season and will await seeding and game-times from the NJCAA next week.
The trip to the National Tournament is the first in five years for Arizona Western.
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.