Panthers run out of gas in tourney final

Fully rested, Palo Verde’s softball team would have stood a puncher’s chance against El Camino Real (Calif.).

The Panthers, however, were anything but fully rested.

In their fourth game of the day, the Panthers struck the first blow before absorbing a whole bunch of haymakers and losing to the Conquistadors 15-4 in five innings Saturday in the championship of the Spring Jamboree at Majestic Park.

“Where they are is where we want to be,” Palo Verde assistant coach Brian Bendele said of El Camino Real. “We want to hit the ball just like they do.”

Head coach Kelly Glass missed Saturday’s games because of a death in her family.

In seven tournament games, El Camino Real (14-5) scored 123 runs, including a 14-2 rout of Bonanza in the semifinals. The Conquistadors boast a lineup most high school coaches only dream about, a potent mix of speed, strength and discipline.

Despite spotting Palo Verde a 3-0 lead on a home run by Melissa McCormick in the first half-inning, El Camino Real was unruffled. Through two innings the Conquistadors answered with 15 runs, spraying 15 hits to all fields and running the bases well.

Leadoff hitter Whitney West and No. 3 hitter Dani Gilmore each went 3-for-3 in the first two innings. Gilmore’s hits were all doubles.

The Panthers, running on fumes after an intense 1-0 win over Centennial in the semifinals, had nothing left in the tank.

Palo Verde began its day with a 9-0 victory over Faith Lutheran, then beat Winslow (Ariz.) 4-2 before nipping Centennial.

Erika Stratton, who homered for the only run against Centennial, added a solo blast for Palo Verde in the fifth inning against El Camino Real.

After not qualifying for the Sunset Region playoffs last season, the Panthers are 12-4 overall and 2-0 in the Northwest League.

“We definitely want to go to regionals and give it a shot at state,” Bendele said. “Any boost you can get throughout the year is crucial. This tournament was good for us.”

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at or 702-387-5230.

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