Sunrise Mountain softball started the new season young on experience but high on expectations, and after 11 games, the Mustangs are ahead of schedule.
Junior Dallis Mitchell pitched six innings, struck out four and singled in the winning run as the Mustangs topped Cave Creek Cactus Shadows 4-3 March 13 at Sunrise Mountain High School.
Tied at three in the bottom of the sixth, the Mustangs’ Kendra Fowler led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Berlynn Stockton. Mitchell then singled to center, scoring Fowler for the winning run.
“(Mitchell) pitched her heart out and got the hit when we needed it,” Sunrise Mountain coach Jody Pruitt said. “I really thought there would be more offense from both teams, but we just need to take care of the softball.”
Sunrise Mountain committed three errors in the game, leading to two Cactus Shadows runs.
“We always call them mental mistakes when they are routine plays,” Pruitt said. “But we also had some good plays and we will fix those errors.”
After pitching six strong innings, allowing one earned run, Pruitt replaced Mitchell with sophomore Kylee Messmer, who retired the side in the seventh for the save.
“(Mitchell) threw her guts out and got in some tough positions, but she got out of them,” Pruitt said. “After six, I just decided the time was right to make the change and (Messmer) finished the game up for us.”
The Mustangs got on the board first when, with two outs and Summer Pells on second, Grace Schmidt crushed a double to right centerfield, scoring Pells.
Sunrise Mountain extended the lead to two in the second when, with two outs and Jaymie Moore on first, Stockton doubled to centerfield.
Moore raced to third and as the throw came in, the ball bounced past Cactus Shadows’ third baseman Kaci Rodriguez and bounced into the Mustangs’ dugout, allowing Moore to score.
“We got some key hits when we needed them,” Pruitt said. “The girls are playing well and executing when we need them to.”
Cactus Shadows tied the game in the sixth when Elisabeth Raby led off with a double over Sunrise Mountain centerfielder Morghan Williams and sacrificed to third. Mitchell struck out Kayley Patton before Carsen Kenny singled in the tying run.
Sunrise Mountain left nine runners on base and Pruitt said she knows they have to take advantage of the runners when they get on.
“It felt like a gazillion (left on base),” Pruitt said. “I think when we are in hitter’s counts, we just are not taking advantage of them. We are getting the right hitters up and just not getting the hits, but that will come as the season moves on.”
Schmidt had two doubles and drove in two runs while Mitchell and Stockton each drove in one. Moore had two singles and scored twice in the Mustangs’ victory.
After dropping their first game of the season, the Mustangs improved to 9-2 on the season.
“As I told you before, we came into this season inexperienced on varsity, but the girls are really battling every game,” Pruitt said. “One thing this team does not do is lie down and we will continue to fight, so don’t count us out of any game.”