The Superior softball team is currently the top-ranked in the Division IV rankings released by the AIA. Their record in power-points games, which is used to calculate the rankings, is a perfect 10 – 0.
The Lady Panthers defeated sixth-ranked Ray in extra innings on Apr. 8, 5 – 4. Gabby Salcido scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth for the walk-off win. The victory over the Bearcats vaulted the Panthers to the top of the division rankings and avenged a previous loss to Ray at the same time. Ray defeated Superior at the Salt River Tournament earlier this season, 7 – 3.
“This win means a great deal to the team,” Panthers’ head coach Martin Navarrette said after the game. “It’s a tremendous confident booster. This game will help us overcome adversity anytime were faced with it, especially going into the playoffs.”
Freshman Elizabeth Ochoa was 3-for-4 with an RBI in the game. Gabby Salcido had two hits in the game, including an in-the-park homerun.
Salcido’s other hit came when she led off the eighth inning with a single. After a sacrifice bunt by Cierra Navarrette moved her to second, Salcido advanced to third on a fielder’s choice groundout by Ochoa. She scored the winning run from third on a passed ball.
“The girls showed me that they can win close games in pressure situations,” Navarrette said. “Even when they were down against a very good pitcher they kept battling and won. It says a lot about the character of the team. It shows me they have heart.”
Sophomore pitcher Ivie Lopez went the distance and earned the victory. She held a strong Bearcats’ offense scoreless over the last three innings of the game. Lopez allowed four runs – three earned – and walked one. She recorded 10 strikeouts.
“Ivie has been solid all year,” Navarrette said of his ace. “I am very impressed with her composure and confidence regardless of who the team or batter is.”
The Panthers will face their biggest test of the season next. They play the defending 2013 State Champion San Manuel Miners in back-to-back games this week. The Miners, who own a 14-game winning streak, are the second-ranked team in the division. But make no mistake, the Panthers provide the Miners their biggest test to date as well. It’s a clash of the titans and, more-than-likely, not the last times the top two teams in the division will face each other.
Upcoming schedule: Apr. 16 vs. San Manuel, Apr. 18 @ San Manuel, and Apr. 23 vs. Pima. All games begin at 4:00 p.m.