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Bunt-fueled rally carries Gaels past Mustangs

It was far from conventional wisdom.

With his team trailing by five runs and two runners on with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning Tuesday, Bishop Gorman coach Kevin Smith asked his cleanup hitter to bunt.

And it worked like a charm.

Megan Coyle’s bunt single and a subsequent throwing error opened the door to a five-run fourth inning for the Gaels, who rallied to defeat visiting Shadow Ridge 7-6 in the opening round of the Sunset Region softball tournament.

Gorman (21-7) will visit Palo Verde (27-6) at 3:30 p.m. today.

“She’s an awesome bunter, and, yes, she’s our cleanup hitter, and it crossed my mind to allow her to swing,” Smith said. “We hadn’t really tested a lot of their infielders yet, so I went ahead and did it. It was a spark.”

Coyle’s bunt spun like a top about 10 feet up the third-base line. She beat the throw to first, which got away, allowing Sierra Dias to score from second and Shelby Estocado to move to third. When the Mustangs weren’t paying attention as they tried to get the ball back to the pitcher’s circle, Estocado raced home to make the score 5-2.

Jasmine Gibson’s grounder made it 5-3, and Casey Nelson’s bases-loaded single tied the game.

It was a huge turnaround for Gorman, which struck out eight times in its first 10 at-bats.

“They all made an adjustment, and it was something we talked about before they went in for their second at-bat,” Smith said. “We did something different. I can’t tell you what I told them to do, but just make an adjustment.”

The Mustangs got a two-out RBI hit from Maraya Lindo in the fifth to take a 6-5 lead, but Gorman strung together two-out singles by Estocado, Coyle and Gibson in the bottom of the inning to grab a 7-6 lead.

Gorman pitcher Dayton Yingling took care of the rest, retiring the final seven hitters in order, including striking out the side — all looking — in the seventh inning.

Coyle finished 3-for-3 with an RBI for the Gaels.

Lindo was 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Kate Dennis was 2-for-4 with a double for Shadow Ridge (16-7), which will host Legacy (15-11) in an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. today.

■ Palo Verde 10, Legacy 0 — At Palo Verde, Rachel Williams tossed a five-inning two-hitter, striking out nine and walking four, to lead the Panthers by the Longhorns.

Melissa Lacro was 2-for-2 with a home run and two RBIs, and Williams went 2-for-2 for Palo Verde. Kiley Harrison was 2-for-4 for the Panthers.

■ Arbor View 14, Cimarron-Memorial 5 — At Arbor View, Letty Valenzuela-Rodriguez was 4-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs as the Aggies (15-10-1) routed the Spartans (15-15).

Kayla Stephens was 3-for-4 with a triple, two doubles and three RBIs for the Aggies, who will visit Centennial (28-6) at 3:30 p.m. today. Brittany Henricksen was 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Kellie Anderson was 2-for-4 with two RBIs for Arbor View.

Cimarron will host Sierra Vista (6-13) in an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. today.

■ Centennial 5, Sierra Vista 0 — At Centennial, Maddie Jones spun a two-hitter to lead the Bulldogs.

Heather Bowen was 2-for-3 with a three-run home run for Centennial. Lauren Stroman was 2-for-2 for the Bulldogs.

Kalei Watkins allowed six hits and struck out 10 for Sierra Vista.

SUNRISE REGION

Liberty coach Jim Portese did not envision running away with a win at Silverado in the opening round of the Sunrise Region softball tournament.

After all, the Skyhawks finished second in the Northeast League and averaged 13 runs in their 17 wins.

But Liberty pounced on Silverado, taking advantage of four errors to score eight runs in the first inning and rolling to an 11-0 win over the Skyhawks.

Liberty (15-7-2) collected its first playoff win in three years and will visit Foothill (17-13) at 3:30 p.m. today.

“Silverado is a good team, but it looked like they just came out flat,” Portese said. “A good team is going to jump on a team like that who is flat, unfortunately.”

Liberty’s Marisa Olmos led off the game with a walk. Ashleigh Rodriguez hit a weak ground ball to third, but a high throw to first sailed down the line, allowing Olmos to score and Rodriguez to advance to third.

Tiana Tapuala drove in Rodriguez with a single, and Tapuala later scored on another throwing error.

Liberty had just three hits in the first inning but brought 12 batters to the plate. Four of the eight runs were unearned.

“You still have to put the ball in play, and you still have to make plays,” Portese said. “Unfortunately they had quite a bit of errors, but you take this win and you move on. We’ve got a very young team. You get on a roll with a young team, and anything can happen.”

Olmos had a two-run double in her second at-bat of the first inning and finished with three runs scored.

Liberty pitcher Karly Dinkel had all the run support she needed, keeping Silverado off-balance and allowing just four hits. She struck out five.

“She hit her spots today and was very consistent,” Portese said. “This is probably the most consistent game she’s pitched so far. She comes out Saturdays and Sundays, she throws in the bullpen, and she works on her game every single day.”

Dinkel’s only real trouble came in the fifth inning. After a flyout, Silverado loaded the bases on a walk and two singles, with a batter-interference call in between, but Dinkel got a groundout to end the game.

“I just have this confidence and feeling in myself that I can do my job as part of the team,” Dinkel said. “If I hit my spots, I know they’ll hit it to places where my defense can make the play and get the outs.”

Silverado (17-7) will host Las Vegas (7-19) in an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. today.

■ Foothill 13, Las Vegas 3 — At Foothill, Sarah Maddox belted a grand slam in a six-run first inning that helped the Falcons rout the Wildcats in six innings.

Maddox was 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and five RBIs, and Kelsey McFarland went 3-for-4 with a double and three runs for Foothill. Katelyn Enzweiler was 3-for-4 with two runs for the Falcons.

Samantha Taylor went 2-for-4 for Las Vegas.

■ Coronado 10, Green Valley 6 — At Coronado, Jaiden Johnson was 3-for-3 with two triples, a double, three runs and an RBI, and the Cougars (20-14-1) used a seven-run fourth inning to top the Gators (14-15).

Basia Query was 4-for-4 with a double and one RBI, and winning pitcher Danielle Amato went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs for Coronado, which will visit Rancho (28-6-1) at 3:30 p.m. today.

Jinger Meuir was 3-for-4 with two runs, and Tara Hilton was 2-for-4 with a triple, a double and an RBI for Green Valley, which will host Basic (9-17) in an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. today.

■ Rancho 11, Basic 1 — At Rancho, Samantha Pochop tossed a five-inning four-hitter with eight strikeouts to lead the Rams by the Wolves.

Jahnae Davis-Houston went 3-for-3 with an RBI, and Kayla Coles was 2-for-2 with an RBI for Rancho.

Paige Blake had an inside-the-park home run in the first inning for Basic.

I-A SOUTHERN REGION

Winning pitcher Becca Bramlage hit an inside-the-park grand slam in the fifth inning to help Virgin Valley’s softball team edge host Cheyenne 8-7 in the opening round of the Division I-A Southern Region softball tournament.

The Desert Shields took a 4-2 lead into the fifth, but Bramlage’s homer sparked a five-run inning.

Janella Fiso was 2-for-4 with a double for the Bulldogs (11-19), who will visit Boulder City (23-5) at 3:30 p.m. today.

Courtney Gain hit an inside-the-park homer, and Alyssa Fata was 2-for-3 with an RBI for Cheyenne (20-16-1), which will host Mojave in an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. today.

■ Boulder City 14, Mojave 4 — At Boulder City, Megan Morton was 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs, and the Eagles had 23 hits, including nine for extra bases, in a six-inning win over the Eagles.

Charlene Masterson was 2-for-4 with a double, a homer and three RBIs, and Jessica Embro went 4-for-4 with a double and an RBI for Boulder City.

Mikaela Brown went 3-for-4 with two doubles, Kaila Davis was 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs and Nichole Schulz was 2-for-4 with a double for the Eagles.

Dannette Daguiar was 3-for-3 with a solo homer for Mojave.

■ Pahrump Valley 12, Moapa Valley 6 — At Overton, winning pitcher Whitney Roderick was 3-for-5 with a double as the Trojans (20-13) beat the Pirates (13-10-1).

Lahela Kaiwi was 3-for-5 with a home run, and Kristal Kaiwi was 2-for-4 with a double. Jordan Egan added three hits for Pahrump, which will visit Faith Lutheran (20-12) at 3:30 p.m. today.

Bailey Owens was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, and Cymoni Cooper had two hits and an RBI for Moapa Valley, which will host Tech (13-8) in an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. today.

■ Faith Lutheran 15, Tech 1 — At Faith Lutheran, Alex Wright went 2-for-4 with a home run, double and three RBIs, and Mosie Foley was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs as the Crusaders routed the Roadrunners in five innings.

Vanessa Valdez was 3-for-3 with three runs for Faith Lutheran.

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