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Errors help Cimarron to softball win

The high school softball postseason tournament doesn’t officially start for almost another three weeks.

Yet Cimarron-Memorial is treating every game like it’s a playoff game.

The Spartans, buried in a deep a hole in the Northwest League after a 2-6 start, likely must win out to have a chance to advance to the Sunset Region tournament.

So far, so good.

Carrie Sheehan struck out 11, and the Spartans took advantage of two errors to score three unearned runs in the top of the sixth inning and stun host Palo Verde 3-0 on Friday. The Panthers (19-5, 9-1) lost for just the second time in 18 games.

“We have to win. We know that,” Cimarron coach Steve Gorden said. “If we play the way we can play, we can get into the playoffs if some other things happen.”

With nine letterwinners — including all-state pitcher Sheehan — back from a team that finished 10-4 in league play last year, the Spartans (12-13, 5-6) figured to be in the hunt for the league title.

But injuries, illnesses and distractions sidetracked Cimarron, which has lost six games by one run. With five games left in the regular season, the Spartans are two games behind Arbor View for the final playoff spot.

Consecutive wins over Cheyenne, Arbor View and the Panthers this week might be the spark the Spartans needed.

“After we got a few losses, it knocked some sense into us,” senior second baseman Starlyn Thomas said. “We needed to focus.”

Thomas started the sixth-inning rally with a one-out infield single, chopping a ball behind second base. She advanced to second when Palo Verde misplayed Madison Newhard’s bunt, throwing high to second in an effort to force out Thomas.

Hannah Williams followed with another bunt. The throw to first ricocheted into short right-center field, allowing Thomas and Newhard to score.

Sarina Creswell’s two-out double to left plated Williams to cap the scoring.

Sheehan and Cimarron’s defense took care of the rest. Sheehan allowed only three hits and a walk.

Palo Verde’s Melissa McCormick tossed a four-hitter and struck out seven.

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