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Coronado pitcher nails down state softball berth — PHOTOS

The smile on Kendall Selitzky’s face Thursday evening was almost as big as the ice pack on her right shoulder.

The Coronado senior earned the grin and the icy relief.

Selitzky picked up a pair of victories on the day, and her five-hitter against Shadow Ridge led the Cougars to a 4-2 road win and a berth in next week’s Class 5A state softball tournament.

Coronado (17-5), the No. 3 seed from the Mountain League, also secured a spot in Friday’s Southern Region title game. The Cougars must win twice at Palo Verde (18-7), the Mountain’s No. 2 seed, starting at 1:30 p.m.

Selitzky also earned the win in a 16-0 victory over Bishop Gorman earlier Thursday to earn a shot at Shadow Ridge (16-9), the Mountain’s top seed.

“It’s so exciting,” she said. “And all of our hard work paid off.”

Things were especially hard for Selitzky and company this week.

Coronado lost 1-0 to Gorman, the No. 2 seed from the Desert League, in the opening round of the tournament Monday, forcing the Cougars into the losers’ bracket. But four wins later, Coronado fought back to the title game.

Selitzky threw 11 innings Thursday, allowing seven hits. She struck out eight and walked one in each game. The team’s lone senior has thrown all but one inning for Coronado in the tournament.

“Kendall is just, she is the backbone of this team,” Coronado coach Lauren Taylor said. “She has been here for four years. She started with COVID. She’s had a new coach every single year. She has done nothing but battle and keep a smile on her face and know that this is her favorite place to be at the end of the day. And she is never going to give up or back down. Ever.”

That was especially true in the seventh inning against the Mustangs. Selitzky had allowed only three hits and needed just 69 pitches through six shutout innings. But Shadow Ridge’s Madison Foster hit a sharp single thorugh the left side on the first pitch of the seventh, and Abby Covington crushed Selitzky’s next pitch into the trees beyond the left-field fence for a two-run homer that cut the lead to 4-2.

But Selitzky froze Alina Pavlovich on a 2-2 change-up for the first out and got Madelynn Quidato to ground to short for the second out. Shadow Ridge’s Josslin Law drew a two-out walk to bring the tying run to the plate, but Selitzky got Carmella Garganese to ground out to short to end the game.

“It’s Shadow. They’re never going to give up,” Taylor said. “Nobody is going to lay-down die.”

Selitzky and Law rolled through the first three innings, but Coronado finally got on the board in the fourth when Alohi Mundon scored on an error to make it 1-0.

The Cougars added three insurance runs in the fifth with the help of another Shadow Ridge error and an RBI single by Sophie Bendlin.

“When the one run came across, yes (it was a relief),” Taylor said. “But my first thing is it’s not enough. One run is not going to be enough, as we’ve learned. When we scored a few more, then it became, ‘OK, this is looking a little better.’ Having those couple extra runs gives you that wiggle room that we really needed.”

Mundon was 2-for-2 with two runs and an RBI, and Bailey Goldberg went 2-for-4 with a double and a run to key the Cougars. Bendlin went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Pavlovich was 2-for-3 for Shadow Ridge.

Selitzky threw more than 150 pitches in her 11 innings of work Thursday, but don’t expect that to keep her out of the circle Friday.

“I have (thrown a lot of pitches), but it’s good,” she said of her arm. “Ready for tomorrow.”

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