YUMA, Ariz. – Early offense gave the Arizona Western College softball team the lead in games one and two of a doubleheader. In game one, the Lady Mats made it stick to beat Paradise Valley Community College 3-2. In game two, AWC fell 9-7 after PVCC rallied in the third and fourth innings.
At the start of game one, the leadoff runners for both teams scored in the first inning. PVCC’s Alexis Malave came home when Alexis Gonzalez hit a two-out single to right field.
The Lady Mats (27-14 overall, 19-13 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) answered when Sally Gastelo led off by beating out an infield single. She went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Caylin Espericueta. With two outs, Julie Roach slipped a grounder through the left side of the infield that scored Gastelo and tied the game.
In the second inning, McKenna Pisciotta hit a grounder straight back to the pitcher that was dropped, and then Briana Hernandez was hit by a pitch. Two batters later, Espericueta rapped a double deep to left field to score both runners for a 3-1 lead.
Paradise Valley (13-19 overall, 13-19 ACCAC) closed the gap in the fifth inning after Gonzalez doubled home Malave to cut the lead to 3-2.
Belinda Gonzalez (15-7) pitched a complete game for AWC to earn the win. She walked five and struck out five while allowing five hits in seven innings.
Nicole Shank (3-7) took the loss for PVCC. She gave up three runs on five hits while striking out three and walking one.
In game two, AWC jumped on top in the bottom of the first. With Gastelo and Espericueta on second and third, Julie Roach sent both home with a line drive single to left field.
Three hits added up to three more runs in the bottom of the second for AWC. Isabel Sanchez doubled, and Gastelo singled with two outs. Espericueta launched a three-run home run to left field that extended the lead to 5-0. It was her sixth homer of the season.
Paradise Valley answered in a big way in the top of the third. With runners on the corners and one out, Gabby Salcido hit a one-run double that put PVCC on the board. With two outs, a wild pitch allowed one run to score and sent Salcido to third. After a walk put runners on the corners again, Kyla Quintanilla lined an RBI single to center that made it 5-3. Shank shot a grounder through the right side that scored another run, and Malave tied the game with an RBI single that scored Quintanilla.
The Pumas stayed hot in the fourth inning. With one out and runners on second and third, Bridgette Vargas hit a liner to right-center field to score one for a 6-5 lead. Erika Houle hit a grounder that was mishandled at second, and another run scored. Quintanilla loaded the bases with a single, and a wild pitch sent one more run across to put PVCC up 8-5.
Both sides settled down until Paradise Valley tacked one more on in the seventh. Alexis Gonzalez swatted a solo home run to push the lead to 9-5. It was her third of the season.
AWC rallied in the bottom of the seventh with two outs. With the bases loaded, McKenna Pisciotta smacked a single through the left side of the infield that scored two and cut the lead to 9-7. Gastelo hit the ball on a rope, but it went straight to PVCC’s Vargas in center field to end the game.
Morgan Garcia (6-9) earned the win in the circle for Paradise Valley. She allowed seven runs in seven innings on nine hits while walking four and striking out five.
Briana Hernandez (2-1) took the loss. She came on in relief of Hailey Cookson during the third inning. She allowed three runs on five hits while striking out one in two-thirds of an inning.
AWC heads to Central Arizona College for a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set 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.