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5A softball teams roll to wins to open state playoffs — PHOTOS

Coronado softball coach Lauren Taylor had heard all about her opponent’s intimidating reputation long before Thursday’s opening-round state playoff game

It didn’t seem to bother her. It also didn’t slow her team a bit.

Despite knowing that Douglas, the top-seeded team from the North, had dominated opponents all season long, the Cougars put 14 hits on the board. That helped the No. 2 seed from the South roll to an 8-3 victory over the Tigers in the Class 5A state playoffs at Bishop Gorman.

Charlotte Bendlin went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs to lead Coronado, which advances to play Palo Verde on Friday. The winner advances to the state championship.

“We did our homework,” said Taylor, who credited assistant coach Juan Rosario for developing a detailed scouting report on Douglas. “We knew they were good and we knew we’d need to show up today. It was not going to be an easy fight.”

It may have been easier than expected. Coronado (18-6) wasted no time in scoring a first-inning run to take a 1-0 lead.

“It was important to get on the board there,” Taylor said. “No matter how many we score, it helps down the line. We knew if we did it once, we could do it again.”

Douglas (30-5), which entered the day having won 16 consecutive games, battled back and tied the score at 2-2 with a run in the fourth inning.

But any doubt was erased in the fifth.

Alohi Mundon reached base on a one-out fielding error and that opened the floodgates. Sophie Bendlin, Kendall Selitzky and Summer Gilliam followed with singles. Charlotte Bendlin’s two-run double down the third-base line capped off the inning to give the Cougars a 6-2 lead.

Selitzky’s RBI double in the sixth extended the advantage to 8-2. The Tigers scored once more in the seventh with the help of a Coronado fielding error, but could not muster a serious rally the final two innings.

Taylor noted her team played regular-season tournament games against “unbeatable” teams and came out with victories. Her hitters knew they could do it again.

“The offense came up clutch when we needed it to,” Taylor said.

Selitzky went 3-for-4 with two RBIs to help the Cougars. She also struck out seven to earn a complete-game win in the circle.

Lilyann Lee went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI to lead Douglas.

The Tigers play Spanish Springs at 12:30 p.m. Friday in a losers’ bracket elimination game at Faith Lutheran. Coronado plays Palo Verde at 3 p.m. in the winners’ bracket. The Coronado-Palo Verde loser will play the winner of Douglas-Spanish Springs in another elimination game at 5:30 p.m.

Palo Verde 7, Spanish Springs 2

In the other game, the Panthers (21-7) faced a rare first-inning deficit, but had little trouble digging out of it in a convincing win over the Cougars (30-8).

Kayleen Enriquez went 2-for-3 with two RBIs to lead Palo Verde, the top-seeded team from the South. Spanish Springs, the No. 2 seed from the North, scored twice in the top of the first inning but the Panthers responded right away. Paige Brandes hit an RBI double to left field in the bottom of the inning to give Palo Verde a 3-2 lead.

“It was important to get that back,” Palo Verde coach Kelly Glass said. “This is a pretty young team and I think we just needed to get our feet wet.”

Bradi Odom pitched the distance for the Panthers despite the rocky opening frame. She allowed no runs and just one hit after the first inning and finished with five strikeouts.

Palo Verde scored a run in the fourth inning, two in the fifth and one in the sixth to take control of the game.

“We had each other’s backs today,” Glass said.

Makayla Enriquez went 2-for-4 with two runs scored to help the Panthers.

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