Lady Marauders earn key split with Page
Staff photo by Eric Lusk
Madison Sandoval gets plenty of high-fives after scoring in the top of the eighth inning in game two against Page.
While the defense has come around in recent action, the offense has struggled to get connected – and stay connected – at the plate. The inconsistency reared its head again Tuesday afternoon as Mingus split a doubleheader with visiting Page.
The Marauders only managed three hits in the opener off Sand Devil pitcher Deanna Chitwood, falling 3-0. Earls’ team doubled their hit total in the second contest and capitalized on Page errors in the eighth inning to win 3-1.
The split leaves the Marauders with a 5-2 record against Grand Canyon Region teams, while Page moved to 2-1. Mingus is now 14-6 overall.
"I told the girls after the game that hitting is contagious," Earls said. "Once one person hits the ball solid, the rest of the team will soon follow."
Case in point, the 15th and final inning of the day against Page.
The Marauders and Sand Devils were tied 1-1 and beginning extra innings. Mingus junior Michelle Lee stepped to the plate and drove the first pitch to left field for a single.
Spurred by that great at-bat, Madison Sandoval dropped a perfectly placed bunt right in front of the plate. It had so much English on it that it just spun in place, and the Page catcher overthrew first base trying to get the out.
Jennifer Grantham, running for Lee, eventually scored, and Sandoval made her way home as well after another Sand Devil throwing miscue.
Although Mingus didn’t score again the rest of the inning, more solid hits followed.
Krista Holm hit a towering double over the centerfielder, and Melissa Fanning stroked a nice shot up the middle. Unfortunately, Holm was tagged out trying to stretch her play into a triple, and Fanning’s shot was caught by the Page shortstop.
Nicole Zettler went 2-for-4 in game two and scored the Marauders’ first run in the top of the fourth inning on a base hit by Lindsey Stokes.
Earls knows that if she can get players on base, her team is dangerous.
"I like to let them steal as often as I can," she said. "We are a very aggressive team once we get on base. We have about 60 stolen bases so far this year."
Mingus didn’t get many runners aboard in the opener. Brittany Smith, Morgan Sandoval and Stokes had the only hits – all singles – and only one player (Elissa Banuelos) drew a walk.
Page got all three of its runs in the third inning. Timeeke Howard hit a two-run single, and Zettler walked home a run.
The Marauders’ best chance to score came in the fifth frame. Morgan Sandoval led off with a single, but the next two batters struck out. Still Smith got aboard safely on a bunt, moving Sandoval to third.
The next hitter, Stokes, popped the ball out of the infield, but it was caught by the charging centerfielder.
The game proved a pitching marathon for both Zettler and Page’s Chitwood. Neither senior came out in either game. Zettler struck out six in the opener.
Morgan Sandoval, a freshman, is starting to make a name for herself at shortstop. She started both games and "made some great defensive plays" in both, Earls said.
Sandoval’s backhanded stop in the bottom of the seventh of game two led to a key out with a runner on base. Page’s next batter earned a clean single, so had that ball gotten through, the Marauders likely would have given up a run and the game – thus ending the day 0-2 instead of 1-1.
Next up for Mingus is a Tuesday afternoon trip to Flagstaff for a rivalry rematch. The Marauders lost the first meeting 8-1 in Cottonwood last week. Flag is still unbeaten in region play.