Ed Petruska-Contributing Writer Pinal Central
YUMA — Containment was a troublesome challenge for the Central Arizona College softball team in Saturday's Division I Region 1 tournament championship round.
Needing one win to advance to the NJCAA Tournament, the Vaqueras fell short despite building 2-0 leads in both games against host Arizona Western in Yuma. The top-seeded Matadors prevailed 7-2 and 5-2, scoring six runs in the sixth inning of the opener and five in the third inning of the decisive contest.
Koryne Coddlington (30-5) pitched all 14 innings for the Matadors, holding Central scoreless in 12 of those frames.
"We battled, and the girls wanted it, but it wasn't our day," CAC coach Shelby Davis said. "I felt we had to win (the first game) because we had some injuries that compromised the type of game we play."
Davis said Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Player of the Year Makiya Thomas sustained a knee injury running the bases in Friday's tournament opener against Yavapai and was at "50 percent." Second baseman Ariday Lopez missed the last three games of the tourney after also injuring a knee while running the bases against Yavapai.
Losing twice Saturday was "devastating," Davis said, "because I know we had a team that was capable of getting to nationals."
The Vaqueras (44-17) loaded the bases in the seventh inning of the second game, prolonging it when the Matadors (53-10) committed a two-out error. Down 1-2 in the count, CAC home run leader Sonia Solis worked it to 3-2 before being retired on a flyout to center.
Central also left three runners aboard in the sixth.
"You've got to be able to score at least one run in those situations to get some momentum going," Davis said. "We were in position, but mentally, the situation got too big for us to execute."
Aliya Ewell doubled in the top of the third to drive in both of the second-game runs for CAC.
Aylin Campa led off the AWC third with a home run. The next four runs scored with two outs on RBI singles by Andrea Cline and Allie Tito and a two-run single by Reima Tsuma.
The Vaqueras went up 2-0 in the opening inning of Saturday's first game on RBI singles by Evelyn Roman and Solis.
After slicing CAC's lead to 2-1 in the fourth, the Matadors sent 11 batters to the plate in the sixth. Cline and Tsuma delivered two-run doubles, Tito had an RBI double, and the last run scored on Campa's sacrifice fly.
Central outlasted Western 14-11 on Friday in a matchup of first-round winners. Both teams scored five runs in the seventh inning and each finished with 20 hits.
The Vaqueras led 4-3 after three innings and 9-6 after six.
The Vaqueras defeated Yavapai 6-0 in Friday's tourney opener. Besaw went 2 for 3 with a home run and four RBIs and Ewell hit a solo home run. Winning pitcher Baylee Eaton struck out 11.
Western defeated Pima 6-3 in Friday's first round and 11-2 in Saturday's elimination game.
The Matadors will be one of 16 teams competing in the NJCAA Tournament, which runs May 22-25 in St. George, Utah.