Champs flex their muscle against former top-ranked Panthers

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Miners’ Mireya Tamayo (#2) at bat. Kelli Luberda | Miner

San Manuel Miner

The State Champion San Manuel softball team entered its first of two games last week behind, then top-ranked, Superior in the state rankings. The Miners defeated the Panthers in both games to regain the top spot.

In addition to reclaiming their spot at the top of the rankings, the Miners extended their winning streak to 16 games, remained undefeated in sectional play, and moved closer to a sectional championship.

After a 7 – 5 win at Superior last Wednesday, the Miners beat the Panthers at home last

Friday, 5 – 3.

The Miners scored three runs after trailing 3 – 2 to earn the comeback victory on Friday. After a number of lopsided wins, it was good for the Miners to play some competitive games as the playoffs approach.

“We want to see better pitching and tougher teams,” Miners head coach Deanne Brewer said after Friday’s 5 – 3 win. “Superior is definitely a hitting team. It’s good for us because we haven’t seen a lot of that (in recent games).”

Starting pitcher Nicole Encinas pitched well during the first three innings, allowing three runs. She turned it over to Miners’ ace Lyana Waddell, who held the Panthers scoreless over the final four innings to earn the win.

Trailing 3 – 2 in the third inning, the Miners scored a run in each of the next three innings on their way to the victory.

Angelica Zuniga hit an RBI single in the third and added an RBI double in the fifth. Mariah McBride hit an RBI single in the fourth.

“I thought we did really well today considering we knew it was going to be a tough game,” Lyana Waddell answered when asked about her team’s performance. “We kept our heads up throughout the game and helped each other.”

Miners’ co-captain Felicia Medina was asked what she thinks the team can improve on as they prepare to defend their title.

“Keeping our bond strong and improving our intensity on the field,” she answered.

Medina, who is recovering from an arm injury, hopes to return to the regular lineup full-time before the week of state. “But we’ll see,” she said.

Upcoming schedule: Apr. 23 vs. Miami, Apr. 24 @ Desert Christian, Apr. 29 vs. Ray. All games are scheduled for 4:00 p.m.

Andy Luberda (919 Posts)

Andrew Luberda began writing for Copper Area News Publishers (CANP) in February 2013 after working 15 years in Healthcare Financial Management. Andy covers sports for 11 high schools. His stories are published in Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner and Superior Sun, in addition to the San Tan Valley Daily PRSS and CopperArea websites. Additionally, he has written human interest stories and business profiles. In May 2012, he earned an AAS in Sports Management at Central Arizona College before graduating with a BS in Communication from Arizona State University in 2014. He and his wife, Kelli, have three sons – AJ, Kyle, and Kade.


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