Lady Miners win second straight championship

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Nicole Encinas, Mireya Tamayo, Angela Navarro, Kadi Monfred, Mariah McBride, Ashley Vargas, Vivica Huerta, Felicia Gomez, Alyssa Cuellar, Lyana Waddell, Angelica Zuniga, Dionne Ruiz, Felicia Medina, Brittany Allison; Manager,  Sammie Sampson; Coaches Deanne Brewer, Brian Brewer, Angela Sierra, Bethany Smith are #1, for the second straight year in a row. Ray Barney | SMHS

San Manuel Miner

The Lady Miners scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh in the State Championship to force extra innings versus Valley Christian last Saturday night. In the bottom of the eighth, with the score tied, 4 – 4, Kadi Monfred scored the winning run on a base hit by Alyssa Cuellar to give the Miners back-to-back state titles. It was the Miners 9th Softball State Championship overall.

The Miners won 23 of their last 24 games on their way to the championship. Their lone loss during that span came against Ray, which lost to Valley Christian in the semi-finals. They dominated their opponents all season and finished with a record of 30 – 3 – 1.

They didn’t have an easy path to the Championship game, having to take on undefeated Veritas Prep and star pitcher Lainey Stephenson in a semi-final game. Stephenson entered Friday night’s contest with a record of 27 – 0, a 0.23 ERA, and averaging over 13 strikeouts per game.

Stephenson and Miner’s ace Lyana Waddell each had a no-hitter going through the first three innings before Veritas Prep broke through in the fourth with two runs. The Miners came back in the bottom of the fourth with timely hitting and aggressive base running. They also took advantage of some mistakes made by a team who appeared rattled in the field. They scored six runs in the fourth and added two more in the sixth in handing Veritas Prep their first and only loss of the season, 8 – 2.

“She had a great game,” Miners’ head coach Deanne Brewer said about her ace pitcher. “Lyana stayed composed. When she (pitches with a lead) she stays relaxed. She was ‘on’ on Friday night.”

As they did on Friday night, the Miners came from behind in Saturday’s championship. Alyssa Cuellar and Felicia Medina scored the tying runs in the seventh to send the game to extras. In the bottom of the eighth, Kadi Monfred reached when she was hit-by-pitch and Nicole Encinas followed with a walk. After a pop-out on a bunt attempt, Angela Navarro loaded the bases when she bunted safely. Alyssa Cuellar came up with the bases loaded and a chance to be the hero.

“It told Alyssa, ‘All we need is a fly ball to the outfield or a ground ball to the right side,’” Brewer recalled. “I told her to shorten up and put the ball in play.”

Cuellar came through, singling up the middle and scoring Monfred with the winning run.

After the game, Brewer said she was proud of her team and the way it performed all year. The Miners may have been overlooked by some, but their coach knew when the season started they had a chance to repeat.

“We knew early on we would be a competitor for the State Championship,” Brewer said.

Did her players play with a chip on their shoulder?

“I wouldn’t say they had a chip on their shoulder,” Brewer answered. “It was more like they were anxious to prove themselves.”

And did they ever.

The 2014 Division IV State Champions are: Nicole Encinas, Mireya Tamayo, Angela Navarro, MacKenzie Vindiola, Kadi Monfred, Mariah McBride, Ashley Vargas, Brittany Allison, Vivica Huerta, Felicia Gomez, Alyssa Cuellar, Lyana Waddell, Angelica Zuniga, Dionne Ruiz, Felicia Medina, and Victoria Ortega.

Andy Luberda (937 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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