For West Valley Preps
The Centennial Coyotes are back in a familiar place, and are determined to make a different result.
No. 2 seed Centennial (20-5), who was edged out by Vail Cinega in the semifinals last year, recorded an 11-1 five-inning win over No. 6 Tucson Empire (30-4) in its 5A quarterfinal game Tuesday night at the Rose Mofford Complex.
Once again, this squad is one win away from the finals. Centennial goes on to play either Empire or No. 4 Tucson Sunnyside (19-5) in the semifinals 10 a.m. May 11 at Mofford.
Centennial senior catcher Makenzie Celeya felt good about her team’s chances after taking 6-0 lead after one inning, but did not want the Coyotes to get too relaxed.
“When we got up by six runs we didn’t want to get too comfortable,” Celeya said. “Hitting is so contagious for us.”
She remembers the feeling off after being beaten in a big game and said she wants to avoid that.
“It was horrible losing in the semifinals last year, and we don’t want to have that feeling again, but it motivates us (this year),” she said.
Senior pitcher Sydnie Sahhar finished with eight strikeouts and said there is some unfinished business remaining.
“This season we had a goal and we weren’t worried about what we had to do,” Sahaar said. “I think what will be important for us is to keep focused, and not make it too big. We’re so excited that we’re getting closer.”
Once Centennial jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one inning on a two-run single from senior shortstop Dren Meginnis and a run-scoring error, coach Randy Kaye knew the table had been set for his team to settle in and play its game.
“One we scored, our pitching is going to keep us in games,” Kaye said. “My biggest thing was that we weren’t going to be satisfied up 6-0, because anything can happen, and that was my biggest focus.”
The Coyotes added runs on a steal of home and cashed in on two more errors for runs five and six.
Empire scored its lone run in the top of the third inning on an RBI single from sophomore catcher Taylor Montgomery.
Centennial scored four runs in its half of the third on singles by junior left fielder Aubrey Maya, junior centerfielder Jaydin Gonzalez and senior first baseman Hailey Galvez. The 10th run scored on an overthrow.
The Coyotes closed out the game on Galvez’s RBI base hit to right.
What helped Kaye was that his team echoed his thoughts about not getting complacent.
“I heard Sydnie (Sahhar) say, ‘stay in it,’” Kaye said.