Four days after sweeping the No. 10-ranked Central Arizona College Vaqueras on the road, the No. 3-ranked Yavapai College softball team welcomed the No. 20-ranked Eastern Arizona College Gila Monsters to Bill Vallely Field on Saturday afternoon and produced the same result. Saturday’s sweep came in the form of two walk-off run rules with scores of 9-1 and 11-3, respectively.
The Roughriders have now won nine games in a row, own a 29-2 overall record and a 21-1 conference record.
Yavapai jumped out to a quick lead in game one as sophomore outfielder Mia Weckel walked to start the first and was followed by a double off the bat of fellow sophomore outfielder Kayla Rodgers.
Weckel later scored in the inning on a sacrifice fly off the bat of freshman infielder Yaya Kaaialii and Rodgers came in on a two-out RBI double off the bat of freshman catcher Jasmine Moreno.
In the bottom of the second, the Roughriders tallied two more runs for a 4-0 lead as freshman infielder Makena Riggs doubled to lead things off and scored on an RBI double (inches away from leaving the ballpark) off the bat of sophomore utility woman Alyssa Rosales.
The second run of the frame scored on a hustle play from Rodgers as she walked, caught the Gila Monsters off guard and took second base, forcing an errant throw and allowing Rosales to come home.
After a quiet third inning for both sides, freshman outfielder Sierra Griego launched a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to give YC a 5-0 advantage. In the top of the fifth, the Gila Monsters countered with a solo homer themselves to bring the score to 5-1.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, the Roughrider offense decided to end the game just as quickly as it had started as it has done so often this season.
Freshman infielder Lovey Kepa’a rifled a single to center, Moreno singled through the left side, freshman catcher Ashley Fields singled to left and Riggs ended the madness with a grand slam over the left field wall to give the Roughriders a 9-1 walk-off run rule victory.
Inside the circle, sophomore pitcher Emily Dix tossed five innings of one-run ball with four strikeouts and just three hits allowed.
At the plate, Moreno and Riggs each tallied two hits while Rodgers, Kepa’a, Fields, Rosales and Griego all had one.
The Roughriders also took a quick 2-0 lead in game two as Rodgers singled and scored on a two-run homer off the bat of Kaaialii in the bottom of the first.
Eastern Arizona cut the lead in half in the top of the second, however Yavapai got that run back in the bottom of the third with an RBI double from Kepa’a.
In the top of the fourth, the Gila Monsters refused to give up and cut the deficit to just 3-2 with a solo homer to lead off the inning.
Heading into the bottom of the fifth and holding onto a narrow 3-2 lead, the Roughriders again went to work with the late-inning offense.
This time, Griego led the frame off with a double and came around to score on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Kaaialii. The next batter, Kepa’a, made it a 5-2 game with another RBI single that drove in Kaaialii.
Without quit, Eastern Arizona chipped away at the Roughrider lead in the top of the sixth with a run, however, it wasn’t enough as an offensive explosion was on the horizon for Yavapai.
Fields walked to start the bottom of the sixth and came around to score on a two-run homer off the bat of Riggs. Later in the frame, with two outs on the scoreboard, sophomore infielder Cheyenne Sandoval launched a solo homer, Rodgers doubled to left, Kaaialii walked, Kepa’a drove in Rodgers and Kaaialii with a double and Moreno capped off the two-out rally and doubleheader sweep with a walk-off single to center that gave YC the 11-3 victory.
Freshman pitcher Emily Darwin started game two and pitched all five innings with nine strikeouts and three runs allowed.
At the plate, Kepa’a tallied three hits while Rodgers, Kaaialii, Moreno and Riggs all had two. Weckel, Sandoval and Griego all finished game two with one hit apiece.
Yavapai softball is back on the field on Saturday, March 26, in Tucson, Arizona, where it will face the Pima Community College Aztecs in an ACCAC doubleheader that is slated to start at noon.
– D.J. Irwin