Shadow Ridge senior Caitlin Covington had been biding her time, waiting for the right opportunity to deliver a huge hit in the Mountain Region softball tournament at Centennial.
Finally, after 5 hours, 20 minutes and 19 innings over two games, she cashed in.
Covington blasted a walk-off home run in the eighth inning Friday to give the Mustangs a 1-0 win over Centennial in the championship game.
Shadow Ridge beat Centennial 3-2 in 11 innings in the first game, forcing a second game in the double-elimination tournament. The Mustangs (27-2) will face Coronado (26-7) in the Southern Nevada championship game at noon Saturday at Bishop Gorman.
Shadow Ridge and Centennial (32-6) advance to next week’s Class 4A state tournament.
“We wouldn’t have even won if my team wasn’t out there making plays behind our pitcher and getting the base hits that we need,” Covington said. “This team has worked so hard for this. It’s all a team effort.”
It was the second time Covington saved the Mustangs. The catcher came up with the play of the game at home plate in the first game. Right fielder Kyanna Galvan caught Natasha Lawrence’s fly ball and threw to Covington, who formed a perfect wall to block Centennial’s Jackie Perez and make the tag in the bottom of the 10th to prevent the winning run.
“We count on (Covington), and we know she’s eventually gonna come through, especially when it’s about the win,” Shadow Ridge coach Julia Meyn said. “When it gets down and dirty, she always comes through. She really deserves this. She’s been wanting this since the start of this season.”
Shadow Ridge pitcher Jasmine Martin went the distance in the second game, allowing four hits and striking out six.
Last season, needing one win to clinch the Sunrise Region tournament championship, Coronado lost twice to Basic to cede the title to the Wolves.
On Friday at Foothill, senior pitcher Ashley Ward made sure it didn’t happen again.
Ward tossed a two-hit shutout over six innings as Coronado rolled to the championship with a 10-0 victory. Aleah Baldonado’s single in the bottom of the sixth scored Tori Jones to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.
“A lot of this goes back to last year,” Coronado coach Missy Krueger said. “A lot of the girls remembered that feeling. This year, this team wanted it and they all stepped up.”
Coronado and Basic (27-9) clinched berths in the Class 4A state tournament.
Despite giving up a single to open the game, Ward said she felt strong from the outset.
“I was very calm and ready. I was just in a zone,” she said. “I had a good warmup, and it helped me really get into the game. I was super excited.”
Ward, who struck out six and issued no walks, gave Coronado the lead in the first inning with an RBI single that scored Paige Snicki.
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