Lady Bearcats stunned in semis

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Copper Basin News

The 4th-seeded Bearcats softball team was upset by 9th-seeded Valley Christian in last Friday night’s Division IV semi-final game, 5 – 0. The ‘Cats, who entered the game riding a nine-game winning streak, were one win away from playing for the state title.

“It wasn’t our best game of the year,” said Bearcats’ head coach Rikki Galka. “Somebody has to lose. We had a good season.”

The Bearcats’ offense had an uncharacteristically poor performance at the plate, striking out 16 times in the game. Stormee Galka had the team’s lone hit.

The Trojans broke a scoreless game in the third, scoring one run to take the lead. They followed by loading the bases with two outs and Jez Graf facing Bearcats’ pitcher Stormee Galka. Graf crushed an 0-2 pitch over the wall in left-center for a grand slam and gave the Trojans a 5 – 0 lead.

“Yeah, that’s never happened,” Stormee Galka answered when asked if she was stunned Graf hit the 0-2 pitch out. “No one has ever hit (a homerun) off me before. It was a riseball and she just caught it perfect.”

That one pitch seemed to sap the energy out the Bearcats, which could account for their poor offensive performance.

“Oh, definitely,” said head coach Rikki Galka, acknowledging her team appeared demoralized after the five-run inning. “It just drained them. That’s the first time I’ve seen our team really look like that. They don’t really get down on themselves. They just fight back but they didn’t this time.”

The Bearcats didn’t just expect to reach the Championship Game, they expected to win it. They were one of the hottest teams entering the state tournament and were one of only three teams to defeat the eventual State Champion San Manuel Miners during the season. The Miners won 23 of their last 24 games, including the State Championship game. Their lone loss during that span came against the Bearcats.

Despite the loss, Rikki Galka was proud of her team’s performance all year.

“It was, it was the best season,” Galka answered when asked if this season was the most fun for her as a coach. “Every one of the girls is a great kid and they work hard.”

The Bearcats will lose six seniors this year, but they have a number of experienced players returning. A group of talented youth players is on the way as well. The ‘Cats are reloading not rebuilding.

“I’m looking forward to the next few years,” Rikki Galka said. “We have a chance to be better than we were this year.”

“We have a lot going for us next year,” said Stormee Galka, agreeing with her mom. “We should be very strong.”

Andy Luberda (951 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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