West Valley Preps
Cactus softball coach Bartt Underwood just picked up the 600th win of his Hall of Fame career — and it was a big one.
In their final time at bat of the Desert Mountain Invitational semifinal against Chandler March 16, the Cobras pounded out four runs to claim a 6-4 win and reach the milestone for their coach.
Cactus fell behind Chandler Hamilton 5-0 in the tournament championship game that night, only to tie it with a five-run sixth inning. The Huskies rebounded and claimed the title with two seventh-inning runs for a 7-5 win.
After two weeks of playing in the state’s top two softball tournaments — Desert Mountain and the Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City — Underwood and the Cobras sport a 14-2 record.
2018 4A runner up Cactus began its regular season destroying the first five teams it faced by a combined score of 77-5. Ironwood was the only Cobras opponent to avoid being defeated by 10 or more runs — and the Eagles fell 9-0.
The Cobras finished 4-1 at the Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City and started the Desert Mountain Invitational 2-0 by blasting Phoenix Mountain Pointe and Willow Canyon.
Underwood began coaching at Centennial in 1991 and after three runner up finishes won the 5A-II conference state title in 2010, his final year leading the Coyotes. In 2012 he began coaching the Cobras, who have been state runner ups in 2016 and 2018.
• Speaking of Centennial, coach Randy Kaye’s Coyotes also competed in the Desert Mountain tournament. The Coyotes finished 2-4 in the tournament but claimed a big scalp along the way.
The Coyotes beat Marist from Chicago, who entered the tourney ranked number 2 in the country by MaxPreps.
In the 1-0 pitchers duel, Centennial senior Sydnie Sahhar threw a complete game with international tie breaker shutout. Then senior Natalie Vasquez drove in the winning run in the international tie breaker, in which innings start with a runner on second base.
Centennial remains on the short list of 5A softball title contenders and is 4-0 in the regular season. Rain pushed that tournament back and caused the Coyotes’ March 12 game against Apollo to be moved back as part of a March 26 doubleheader at Apollo.
• The Coyotes new Northwest Region rival Sunrise Mountain is right there with them.
Sunrise Mountain has not been bothered by its ascent to 5A. The Mustangs are 7-0 thus far, including wins over 2018 5A playoff teams like Buckeye Verrado, Gilbert Campo Verde and Liberty.
Rain also pushed back their scheduled road game at Phoenix Horizon from March 12 to April 5.