The Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks girls’ softball team has won its first two games of the 5A-II state softball playoffs.
The first two wins took place on a common field against common opponents. By virtue of their high seed (No. 3), the Nighthawks have gotten to host two games. Last Saturday, they defeated No. 14 Mountain View, 15-5.
The win marked the third time they had beaten the Mountain Lions in 2011. On Tuesday, they won at home over Sunnyside, 5-3. It marked their third win over the Blue Devils this year.
“Playing a team three times can be a challenge,” said Nighthawks coach Randy Anway.
In the two-loss elimination tournament, the Nighthawks next met No. 10 Chaparral on Saturday, May 7 at Sandra Day O’Connor Park. (see related story)
The win over the Blue Devils was a down-to-the wire battle. Taking a 5-3 lead into the seventh, Nighthawks’ pitcher Makayla McAdams (20-6) retired the first two batters, before a walk and an error put the tying runners on base.
But with the pressure on, McAdams fanned Devils’ cleanup batter Alexis Ayala to end the game.
The Nighthawks took the lead for good during a fifth-inning rally. Lauren Robinson doubled. With two down, Erin Satterfield belted a two-run homerun to tie it at three. Then, Jordan Rocker tagged base on an infield hit, before Robin Landrith doubled her home with the go-ahead run.
“We struggled early,” Satterfield said. “We rely on our hitting. Defensively we’ve been doing good.”
In a very well-played defensive game, Ridge made only one error, while Sunnyside had none.
Ironwood bats added an insurance run in the sixth, as the bottom half of the lineup produced.
Danielle Colwill and Alexis Clinton hit singles. With one down, Robinson hit an RBI single to give Ironwood a 5-3 lead.
“We came back and got the hits we needed,” McAdams said. “We made the plays we needed.”
Colwill, Clinton, and Robinson finished with two hits each for the home team.
Things started out slowly for the Nighthawks who managed only three hits and trailed 3-1 after four innings.
With two down in the Sunnyside third, Amanda Spradling singled. Adriana Rosthenhausler also singled. Then, came the at-bat of the game. Desaray Akins had an at-bat that seemed to last about 15 minutes, but was at least 10 pitches long.
She blasted two balls foul over the left-field fence, and fouled off others to stay alive. Finally, she got her pitch and nailed it over the center-field fence for a three-run home run and a 3-1 Sunnyside lead.
How did McAdams feel at that point?
“I was extremely concerned,” McAdams said. “They were getting on the pitches.”
McAdams, who picked up her 20th win of the season, also defeated Sunnyside for the third time. She did it by settling down to allow only two hits and two walks after the third.
McAdams allowed three runs, six hits and two walks in her seven innings. She struck out five.
The next time Akins came up, she was unintentionally walked. McAdams then retired Ayala on a grounder to end the threat.
“It’s a team sport,” Satterfield said. “We’re always there for each other.”
The Nighthawks effort was no more evident than on Satterfield’s jersey after the game. It was dirty from top to bottom, after she spent most of Tuesday’s game diving for anything near third base.
“I usually (get dirty) do,” Satterfield said.
Anway knows it doesn’t get any easier for his team as they go deeper into the playoffs. He knows that the Sunnyside win was no easy one.
“They’re a great team,” Anway said. “Pete (Palomarez) does an outstanding job. He has them mentally ready to play.”
What do the Nighthawks need to do to win the state title?
“Control the energy level,” Anway said. “Every team is a little different. I need to keep them mentally focused.”
What about playing on the road the rest of the tournament?
“I think we’ll be ready. It’s a mind-set.”