Mon, Jan. 20

SOFTBALL QUEENS AGAIN: Camp Verde High rallies to win third softball state championship

The Camp Verde Cowboys celebrate winning the state championship. VVN/James Kelley

The Camp Verde Cowboys celebrate winning the state championship. VVN/James Kelley

TEMPE — Camp Verde High softball looked like it was dead and buried.

The Cowboys headed into their last at bat having just given up another run and trailing No. 1 and defending state champion Benson 6-2.

However the third seeded Cowboys rallied to score eight in the seventh inning and beat the Bobcats 10-7 in the 2A state championship game on Tuesday night at ASU.

“Man it was an emotional rollercoaster,” CV head coach Henry Smith said. “We knew Benson was going to be a tough team, they’re the ultimate champs, we have a few more to win before we say we’re at that level. So we know what they are, we knew they were going to come and do some damage. We just talked about being consistent and believing in each other and staying with the system and they did that. It took a while but their commitment stayed with and stayed true and we made adjustments in the last inning. That’s what the game is about, that’s what life is about, it’s getting down and figuring out what you need to do to make a comeback and they did that I’m proud of them. Hopefully a game like this a win like this can carry them on for a long time in life and teaches them to never give up and keep working.”

Benson was riding a 17 game winning streak and their only losses were to highly ranked teams from bigger conferences. The only time this season that they gave up more than six runs in an entire game was when they lost to Mingus Union, who went deep into the 4A tournament.

Last year Benson edged Camp Verde in the state title game. This is the CV seniors’ third appearance in the state championship game.

“It’s just super exciting because I was here my freshman year and we got runner up and just the feeling of winning this time with this great team we have is just amazing,” senior Rachel Stockseth said.

The Bobcats jumped ahead in the third inning off of a couple errors, then in the fourth the Cowboys took a 2-1 lead but Benson responded with four runs in the fifth and then added another in the sixth.

However, Camp Verde dropped eight in their last at bat.

Senior Tyra Smith started the rally officially by drawing a bases loaded walk, then Stockseth drove in two and junior Hailey Moore hit a three RBI triple.

“Man, Halie Moore came through,” Henry Smith said. “Last year she was real nervous and she stumbled a bit last year in this game and this year she stayed disciplined, she made adjustments.”

Benson won state championships in 2018, 2017, 2008 and 2006 and finished second in 2010. Camp Verde also won the state championship in 2009 and 1981 and finished second in 2018, 2016, 1995, 1994, 1992, 1991, 1989, 1987, 1982 and 1980.

“Rachel’s been true all year long,” Henry Smith said. “Our senior leaders, Tyra, Rachel, Miranda (Sharp), they came in and showed that experience is worth listening to and out players listened to them and bought into it and it was just an amazing experience for us.”

Junior Jacy Finley picked up the win and drove in a couple runs with a double in the fourth.

“It feels great,” Finley said. “Believing in everybody helped me a lot.”

Finley pitched a no hitter through 4.2 innings.

“She did amazing, without her we’re not here that’s just the proof,” Henry Smith said. “She’s an amazing kid, an amazing work horse and just has a bright future for college and whatever she’s going to do, she’s an amazing kid.”

The Camp Verde supporters were loud and plentiful. Finley said the Cowboy fans helped the team a lot.

“I’m standing at shortstop and it’s just echoing in my ears and it was just so cool to have that much support,” Stockseth said.

Camp Verde’s seniors finished their career with state championship, three appearances in the title game and four final fours.

“It is just proof of what it is when you commit yourself to something and you make a plan and you have these goals and you decide what you need to accomplish those,” Henry Smith said on Tuesday after the game. “That’s what this group did. This group as freshmen hadn’t stopped practicing until today, they hadn’t stopped improving today to comeback and win this thing, so four years of hard work for them and they came back and finally did it.”

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