Palo Verde’s softball team came up just short in its quest for a tournament championship Saturday.
But the Panthers gained something far more valuable than any trophy or plaque — experience and confidence.
Palo Verde fell behind early, rallied to tie and then gave up three unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning of an 8-6 loss to Carson (Calif.) in the Gold Bracket championship game of the Spring Jamboree at Majestic Park.
The Panthers (19-5) went 5-1 in the event, including a win over nationally ranked El Camino Real (Calif.) on Friday.
“This was a great tournament for us,” said Palo Verde coach Kelly Glass. “We played some quality teams, probably the best teams we’ve played in this tournament over the years.”
Carson, which features several high Division I recruits, including shortstop Brianna Tautalafua (UCLA) and catcher Hillary Edior (Arizona), scored four runs with two outs in the bottom of the first inning and appeared on its way to a runaway win in the final.
But Haley Harrison drew a bases-loaded walk, and Mackenzie McBride stroked a two-out, two-run single in the top of the second to pull the Panthers within 4-3.
“I knew Carson was going to hit the ball,” Glass said. “We told the kids that we had to hit the ball just as hard. It was going to be a fight, and I’m proud of my girls for fighting back.”
The Colts (19-5) took a 5-4 lead into the sixth before Kiley Harrison’s two-out double scored Breanna Beatty to tie the game.
Three Panther errors in the bottom of the sixth inning led to three unearned runs and allowed Carson to take an 8-5 lead into the seventh.
But Palo Verde didn’t go down without a fight. Melissa Lacro tripled to lead off the seventh, and Rachael Turner reached on an error to bring the potential tying run to the plate.
Carson freshman pitcher Jessica Robledo got a pop out, a sacrifice fly and a line out to center field to end the threat.
McBride was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and Rachel Williams went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI for Palo Verde.
“The experience we got here is crucial,” Glass said. “This game is what it’s going to feel like if we make it into the postseason.”
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at email@example.com or 702-387-5230.