It was a bit more stressful than what their manager preferred, but the Flagstaff Softball Little League 8-10 All-Stars showed some strong resilience in a 9-7, back-and-forth win over Round Valley Friday night at the Continental Little League Fields.
“Like I said yesterday, I knew Round Valley was going to be a tough team,” Flagstaff skipper Justin Talley said. “We made a few errors but other than that I knew it was going to be a tough game. It was a lot closer than I wanted it to be but in the end we did what we needed to do.”
After having trailed 4-1 entering the third inning, Round Valley pulled off a two-out rally to knot the ballgame up at 4-all heading into the bottom of the frame of the District One tournament. Flagstaff answered in the bottom of the fourth with a flurry of its own, scoring a pair of runs off RBIs from Jimena Avitia and Baylee Barton to retake the lead at 6-4.
Answering Round Valley’s flurry was the key for Flagstaff, as they kept shifting momentum back into their favor after each inning.
In the top of the fourth, Round Valley again made a run to tie it 6-all -- this time taking advantage of passed balls. Round Valley ignited the inning with a base-hit single, followed by walk by Flagstaff’s pitcher, Barton -- who came into the game in relief of starting pitcher Jade Sandoval with one out left to get in the top of the fourth.
Once the bottom of the frame came around, Flagstaff took advantage of some key mistakes by Round Valley.
Starting the bottom half of the fourth with three of the first four batters drawing walks, Elise Welker roped an infield RBI single to bring in a run and break the tie.
The next batter, Olivia Zamora, drew another walk with the bases loaded for an RBI. Adding one more run to Flagstaff’s lead, Avitia hit a sacrifice RBI before Barton hit into a popout to end the inning at 9-6 in favor of Flagstaff.
The fifth inning was the best for pitchers, as both Round Valley and Flagstaff kept runners from reaching home as Flagstaff dropped all three batters to strikeouts and Round Valley stranded a runner at third.
Round Valley made a solid effort to close the gap in the top of the sixth, drawing walks on the first two at-bats of the frame before a passed ball led to an easy score at home plate to cut the deficit to 9-7.
With the tying run at the plate, Flagstaff nearly let a passed ball get through but Barton was able to make the tagout at the plate and then struck out the final batter of the night to seal the win and keep her team in the winners bracket.
“I feel good about the team,” Talley said. “We most likely are going to see Round Valley at the end of it. But we got another game against St. Johns, and I was watching their game the other day and they don’t look too bad either.”
As a team Flagstaff only had three hits but drew 14 walks. On the other side Round Valley drew 12 walks and had one hit.
Barton pitched the final 2 1/3 innings, striking out eight during her strong performance in the circle.
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Flagstaff will take on St. Johns today at 7 p.m. at Continental Little League Fields with a berth to the title game on the line.
WFLL 15, PAGE 0
Willie Akens and Chase Brown combined for a no-hitter on Friday in Winslow as the West Flagstaff Little League All-Stars cruised in the opener of the Area One tournament of their age group over Page.
Akens pitched two innings and recorded three strikeouts, and Brown threw 1 inning and fanned three as well.
Brown also had a two-run single for WFLL, which registered a 12-run second inning to take control early. Will Carpenter went 3 for 4 and had an inside-the-park home run to go with a triple and two RBIs.
DJ Faust was solid at the plate, going 2 for 2 with a double and three RBIs. Jace Adams was 2 for 2 with an RBI.
The WFLL 9-11s are set to play Holbrook today at 7 p.m. in Winslow.
Luke Holt finished 2 for 3 and drove in a run for WFLL, and teammate Jake Hanley connected for a double that cleared all the bases in front of him.
CLL 14, PAYSON 1
CLL scored 11 runs in the fourth and fifth inning combined to rout host Payson Friday in the Area One tourney.
Five different CLL batters ended the day with doubles, with Tyson Mortenson connecting for two.
Steve Stone drove in three runs and scored two runs while going 2 for 4. Vander Valk followed with two RBIs and he threw one inning of relief after Mortenson went four frames and struck out five batters.