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Coronado claims 5A state softball title: ‘This is unbelievable’ — PHOTOS

Updated May 18, 2024 - 8:20 pm

Coronado coach Lauren Taylor, given the difficult path her team took to the state championship game, wasn’t convinced the Cougars would win until it was almost over.

But senior pitcher Kendall Selitzsky appeared unbothered by the stakes Saturday. She worked her way out of some early trouble as the Cougars defeated defending champion Douglas for the second time in three days to claim the Class 5A state softball title with a 4-2 victory at Bishop Gorman.

“This is unbelievable,” said Taylor, whose program earned its first championship. “Back in August, one of the moms told me she’d had a vision we were going to win it. She never stopped saying it, but I never really believed until the last inning.”

Coronado (20-6) entered the state tournament as the South’s No. 2 seed after losing the region title game to Palo Verde on May 10.

The Cougars didn’t lose again. They defeated Douglas 8-3 in an opening-round game Thursday at Bishop Gorman before beating beating Palo Verde 15-4 on Friday at Faith Lutheran.

“Every conversation I had with the team had something to do with what road we needed to take,” Taylor said. “We took the hard road in region, but state was a little easier.”

Coronado still faced challenges on its road to the title. One came Saturday when Selitzsky gave up a run in the top of the first to put the Cougars in an early hole.

“When I fall behind, I focus myself on the next better and I just remember that my team has my back,” Selitzsky said. “I knew we would have opportunities to score.”

Her offense responded with two runs in the second inning thanks to some unusual plays. Douglas (32-6) recorded an error, misplayed a fielder’s choice and had a costly wild pitch in the frame.

The Tigers, the North’s No. 1 seed, tied the score at 2 in the third inning on an error. The game stayed knotted until the bottom of the fifth, when Bailey Goldberg hammered a solo home run for Coronado.

“That was a huge relief,” Taylor said. “Every time she steps in, you know she’s going to do something, and she was due for one.”

Selitzsky knew the moment would come.

“That helped me find my rhythm,” said Selitzsky, who struck out nine while allowing four hits. “It got me excited.”

Selitzsky hit an RBI triple later in the inning to give Coronado a 4-2 lead. She then controlled the tempo from the pitcher’s circle the rest of the way.

“Kendall has a heart of gold,” Taylor said. “She’s a champion through and through.”

Selitzsky’s last challenge was to overcome a towering single by the Tigers’ Lilyann Lee in the sixth inning. That put two Douglas runners on base with one out. But the next batter lined into a double play, and Selitzsky set the side down in order in the seventh to begin the Cougars’ victory celebration.

Goldberg went 2-for-3 to lead Coronado’s offense, while Ava Delaney and Zora Simpson both had doubles for the Tigers.

Contact reporter Jeff Wollard at jwollard@reviewjournal.com.

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