Getting production from the bottom of the lineup is seen as a bonus for many softball teams.
The way Faith Lutheran’s No. 9 hitter McKenna Young swung the bat in the Class 5A Southern Region tournament, it was only a surprise when she didn’t get a hit.
Young finished her tear through the tournament by going 3-for-3 with two doubles and six RBIs. The last of those came on a sacrifice fly that put the final run on the board in a 16-6 run-rule win over Green Valley in five innings that clinched the tournament championship Friday at Faith Lutheran.
”We consider our nine and one to both be leadoffs,” Faith Lutheran coach John Chilman said. “She was leadoff for the first month of the season, but it’s huge having her at the bottom of the lineup. In the tournament she’s hitting over .700, so she’s just seeing the ball so well.”
Young finished the tournament’s four games 10-for-12 with three doubles, a home run and 13 RBIs.
Both teams will play in next week’s state tournament, but Chilman said it was important for his team to beat the Gators.
Green Valley won both regular-season meetings to earn the Desert League championship, while Faith Lutheran finished second. But it was Faith Lutheran’s tournament, as it ran through with a 4-0 record.
“I think we were very confident from the beginning,” Young said. “And we just proved it as we made our way through the tournament.”
Green Valley fell into the loser’s bracket after dropping a 7-4 decision to Centennial on Wednesday in a game it led 4-0 entering the seventh inning. That forced the Gators to win two games Thursday to reach the championship round.
“It was big time for our girls (to win Thursday’s games), and to see that heart and fight out of them was incredible,” Green Valley coach Kathlyn Doiron said. “I wasn’t surprised by the fight they had, but it was really great to see.”
Shaylee Ghadery was 4-for-4 with a double and RBI and scored four times, and Averi O and Emily Sholeff had three hits and three RBIs apiece for the Crusaders, who pounded out 18 hits.
Young had a two-run double in the second inning that made it a 6-2 Faith Lutheran lead. After the Gators rallied with four runs in the top of the third to tie the game, Young put the Crusaders back on top for good with an RBI single.
She added a two-run double in the fourth before putting the finishing touch on the win. Hannah Watson was 3-for-3 with a double and three RBIs, while Aspyn Beattie was 2-for-3 and drove in two for Green Valley.
Ava Walker earned the win in the circle with a complete game. She allowed two earned runs on nine hits and struck out two.