It just wasn’t Flagstaff’s day in the championship round of the District 1 Little League 8-10s Softball Tournament Tuesday at Continental Little League Fields.
The undefeated Flagstaff All-Stars struggled to get any groove going against Round Valley, getting run-ruled in four innings 10-0. Round Valley forced a winner-take-all game today, with a bid to the state tournament on the line.
“Everybody has an off day and Round Valley is a tough team -- we knew that since last year,” Flagstaff manager Justin Talley said. “ … We just have to keep our girls up. They were just getting down on themselves from the minute they got down early. Our top of the lineup didn’t do as well as they usually do. We already talked to our leaders and they know that their job is to keep the other girls in check.”
In a much different case than the last time the two squads faced off in a 9-7, back-and-forth outing that saw Flagstaff come out on top, Tuesday’s game was controlled by strong pitching by Round Valley.
Kelci Walker, starting in the circle for Round Valley, pitched all four innings, allowing just three hits, while registering two walks and striking out eight. Flagstaff was able to get Walker into a couple jams, but was unable to take advantage with runners in scoring position.
In the top of the first after the first two batters of the order couldn’t get on base, hitting in the 3-hole for Flagstaff, Jimena Avitia roped a double to give Flagstaff a bit of life early. Baylee Barton followed Avitia with a single, advancing her teammate to third. With a chance at an early lead, Flagstaff’s Joy Shafor was struck out swinging by Walker.
Round Valley followed the scoreless start with a pair of runs in the bottom of the opening frame. Both runs in the bottom of the first came off passed balls by Flagstaff as Round Valley scored twice without making a hit. Barton, who started in the circle for Flagstaff, opened the game walking two batters in the first while striking out three.
The second inning went fairly similar for Flagstaff as the first did. Despite loading the bases, Flagstaff couldn’t make a rally, ending the top of the frame with a popout. Round Valley scored one run in the bottom of the second off a sacrifice bunt that led to a close play at the plate.
Neither team got much done in the third, each going scoreless with Flagstaff falling 1-2-3 by strikeouts and Round Valley leaving one on base.
Flagstaff again went down 1-2-3 by strikeouts in the top of the fourth, setting up Round Valley with a chance to end the game via mercy rule.
Round Valley scored seven runs to end the game, scoring all of its runs without ever registering a hit because of walks and advancing runners on passed balls by Flagstaff.
The two will face off today at 6 p.m. for a shot at the state tournament.
The West Flagstaff All-Stars got back on track with a 15-0, three-inning win over Winslow to advance to the the district tournament.
Willie Akens and Luke Holt combined to pitch all three innings, striking out eight batters.
Most of the squad was able to make their mark in the rotation as Chase Brown went 3 for 3 with a triple and five RBIs, Will Carpenter went 3 for 4, Akens went 3 for 3, Jake Hanley at 1 for 1 with a pair of RBIs, Holt going 2 for 3 with two doubles and two RBIs and Fitz Guinan at 2 for 2 with two doubles and one RBI.