The No. 7 Red Mountain Mountain Lions advance to the 6A state championship game despite an ugly start in the semifinal, beating No. 11 Shadow Ridge 3-2 in 10 innings on May 13 in Mesa.
The Stallions were able to score their two runs in the 1st inning thanks to some early errors made by the Mountain Lions. It was #7 Paige White for the Stallions who started off the scoring by hitting a line drive to right-field that got away from the fielder, leading to an RBI triple.
“I mean errors are going to happen, an error is an error. You can’t expect to make every single play, I get that,” Rich Hamilton, head coach for Red Mountain said, “that’s going to happen. But some of those other mistakes that we made, just very uncharacteristic, just haven’t seen that all year.”
It was a pitcher’s duel for the next six innings, with both pitchers, Taylor Trowbridge for the Mountain Lions and Morgan Greene for the Stallions, striking out five batters each through the first 7 innings.
But in the bottom of the 7th, Red Mountain was able to string together a 2-out rally and tie the game with RBI singles from Nicole Armijo and Echo Mattiello.
Despite Greene striking out four of the six Red Mountain batters she faced in the 8th and 9th innings, it all seemed to implode in the bottom of the 10th. A leadoff walk and back-to-back-to-back base hits would seal the deal and punch Red Mountain’s ticket to the championship game.
“I just told them that I was proud of them for never giving up, it would have been really easy for us to roll over and tank after the first five or six innings that we had,” Hamilton said.
Shadow Ridge made it to the 6A semifinals this year with just four seniors on the team, with a majority of the team being underclassmen. Although they were seeded No. 11 for the state playoffs, they did not let that stop them from shocking a few people along the way.
The Stallions upset No. 6 Desert Vista and the No. 3 seeded Queen Creek Bulldogs on their way to the semifinals.
“I’m so proud of my team, I think they did an amazing job. I think that a lot of people discounted us this year and didn’t think that we would get nearly this far,” Kortny Hall, head coach for Shadow Ridge said, “every single game it was the whole team, it wasn’t just one person, it was the whole team playing together.”
It’s a bittersweet ending for Shadow Ridge, as they finish the season with a 15-7 record. Though the Stallions were able to pull off a couple of upsets in the early rounds, they still weren’t able to reach the outcome they so deeply desired.
For seniors like pitcher Greene, moments like this are tough. But she is confident that this Shadow Ridge team will be back in a position to make a deep run in the state playoffs in the near future.
“To get this far my senior year is amazing, I couldn’t have asked anymore of my team to get here today,” Greene said, “if they keep playing their hearts out, they’ll get here again. I know that.”
Red Mountain still have one game left, the storied program's first state finals appearance since winning the big school title in 2014.
After their win over Shadow Ridge, they are now set to take on the No. 1 seeded Xavier Prep Gators in the 6A state championship game at Hillenbrand Stadium in Tucson Monday.
The Mountain Lions will have their hands full with a red-hot Xavier Prep team that is coming off a 10-0 win in the semifinals over No. 4 Pinnacle.