Beating Gilbert for the second time in the state tournament, the Flagstaff Girls Softball Little League 10- and 11-year-old All-Stars won the state championship Saturday at Arthur Pack Regional Park in Tucson.
With a 4-0 record at the seven-team tournament, Flagstaff needed just one game on Saturday to lock up the title with a perfect record. Coupled with two wins in the district tournament, Flagstaff won six games in less than two weeks. The run culminated with Saturday’s 3-1 victory for a title, as Gianna Baca allowed the lone run of the game in the first inning before she and her defense shut down their opponents.
Snagging a line drive with runners on the corners in the third inning, Baca turned a double play to end the inning. With Gracie Schmitz on the mound to finish the game, Gilbert loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth before a strikeout clinched the championship.
Cali Brace led off the third inning with a single and moved over on two fielder’s choices and scored on a triple by Schmitz. With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the fifth , Flagstaff plated the two runs it needed. Christianna Janisse and Baca singled and moved up on a passed ball. Danica Wilson’s RBI fielder’s choice put the first run across, with the second scoring on another passed ball.
Gilbert scored at least nine runs in four of its games at the state tournament, including a 12-4 win Saturday morning to reach the championship game. Flagstaff was the lone team to slow down its offense. Flagstaff allowed just a pair of runs in the 8-2 victory earlier in the tournament, before coming up with an even better defensive outing.
Flagstaff manager Mark Wilson said the team played with focus and purpose throughout its run, and that coming away with a state title at any level is a strong achievement.
Punching their ticket to the championship round in a little more than an hour, Flagstaff bounced back from a loss with a 4-3 victory against host Queen Creek.
Maggie Auza struck out four batters and induced 10 pop-ups, with Queen Creek coming up with just three hits. All three came in the fourth innings as Queen Creek scored its three runs.
Auza finished 2 for 3 at the plate with a triple and Viviana Mendoza had two of Flagstaff's total of 11 hits.
Having lost to Apache Junction, 5-2, on Thursday, Flagstaff will now get a chance to redeem itself. Needing two wins to come away with another state title, Flagstaff will play Apache Junction at 6 p.m., with a second game set at the completion of the first if Flagstaff wins.