VV softball takes 2nd in state tourney
Staff photo by Eric Lusk
VERDE Valley's 15-16 All-Stars won three of five games the past week in Tucson. Team members are from front, left to right: Sarah McDonald, Elissa Banuelos, Phyllicia Barnes and Morgan Sandoval. Second row: A.J. Hatch, Megan Okamoto, Meicha Luksich, Heather Hatch, Madison Sandoval, Stephanie Phelps and coah Ronnie James. Back row: coach Ruben Sandoval, coach Raul Hatch and Michelle Lee. Players Melissa Fanning and Brittney Smith are not pictured.
Verde Valley’s 15- and 16-year-old softball all-stars took their best crack at undefeated Winslow before falling 12-4 in the state title game Tuesday night in Tucson.
The contest went the full seven innings, with Winslow never quite being able to shake the determined VV bunch.
"We hung tough," said Jayne Lee, Verde Valley Little League’s softball director, who spent the week in Tucson with the team. "The girls were hitting their pitcher. Only two struck out."
Michelle Lee tripled for the Verde all-stars and teammate Elissa Banuelos doubled. Lee also threw a runner out at home from the outfield. Both she and Banuelos are rising stars on Mingus Union’s varsity softball team during the spring.
Heather Hatch recorded two RBIs in the title game. Sarah McDonald and Morgan Sandoval also had hits.
Verde Valley, coached by Raul Hatch, Ruben Sandoval and Ronnie James, finished 3-2 at state, with the only losses coming to Winslow. The first meeting between the teams went to Winslow by a 5-4 score. Verde led 4-1 before the error bug hit late in the game.
The VV all-stars beat Mesa 17-7, Tucson Mountain 5-1 and Sunnyside 4-1. Pitcher Phyllicia Barnes, a rising sophomore at Camp Verde High, struck out 34 batters in three tournament games and posted a 2-1 record for the week.
Winslow didn’t get much rest after winning the state tournament, Jayne Lee said. They played Wednesday evening in a West Sub-Regional tournament in Las Vegas against state winners from Utah and Nevada.
That tourney winner will then advance to another West Region tournament in Montana this week. The ultimate goal – the Little League Softball World Series in Kentucky in August.