Baylee Barton picked up right where she left off for the Flagstaff Softball Little League 8- through 10-year-old All-Stars.
After a clutch relief performance in the circle on Friday that helped her team edge its way into the semifinals of the District One tournament winners bracket, the right-handed hurler pitched a solid complete-game effort Saturday in a win over St. Johns.
Barton recorded 10 strikeouts, issued one walk and allowed one earned run, taking control for a 12-2 mercy-rule victory at the Continental Little League Fields in Flagstaff Saturday. Flagstaff moved into the championship round, which takes place Tuesday at the same location as the team looks to make its way to the state tourney.
Elise Welker led off the game for Flagstaff with a trip around the bases, turning a hard-hit double into a 1-0 lead as St. Johns made a few errant throws. Flagstaff went ahead 12-2 in the top of the fifth, the game's final inning, when Welker, who was 2 for 2 with a walk and a hit by pitch, drove in a run on a base hit.
St. Johns doubled up the speedy Welker on a tagout, however, as teammate Olivia Zamora lined out in the fifth, making one of its best defensive plays during a night full of miscues.
Barton added to her cause with a single, and Jimena Avitia totaled five RBIs while going 2 for 3 with an inside-the-park home run that came in the fourth with two outs. Avitia's trip around the bags made it 10-0, but St. Johns scored two in the bottom of the fourth, one on an error during a pickle play between third base and home, and another right after on an RBI single.
Barton, who made the errant throw past her third baseman that allowed St. Johns to get on the scoreboard, only allowed three total hits on the night.
Flagstaff, still undefeated in the district tourney, did its most damage in the third and fourth frames, scoring four runs in each. The second and third belonged to Barton, who sat down the side in order on strikeouts through the two frames before a St. Johns batter could make contract on her for a groundout that started the bottom of the fourth.
Barton pitched the final 2 1/3 innings of Friday's 9-7 victory over Round Valley, the team that will meet St. Johns Monday as the two look to face Flagstaff for a second -- and maybe a third -- time in the championship round.
Joy Shafor finished 1 for 1 with a double and a walk for Flagstaff, which totaled six hits and reached safely eight times on bases on balls. Ryleigh Alex was 1 for 2 with a walk for the victors.
Flagstaff plays on Tuesday at 6 p.m. If Flagstaff loses Tuesday, it plays Wednesday in a winner-takes-all scenario.
After a 3-1 loss Friday to Winslow that stalled the Flagstaff Juniors All-Stars from reaching the state tournament, the defending champs woke their bats up for Saturday's must-win ballgame.
Flagstaff started off the first inning with a double by Danica Wilson followed by a another by Kody Watson for an RBI. Once Flagstaff took the lead, it never looked back and put on a hitting clinic en rout to the 14-1 win over Winslow.
Five Flagstaff slappers each had at least one hit to add to the total damage done.
It was a situation Flagstaff doesn't itself in, as Friday was the team's first defeat since losing in the Western Regionals in 2018. It was the first loss for the team ever in the district tourney, which Flagstaff has now won four straight years.
Watson led all Flagstaff hitters, going 3 for 4 with four RBIs followed by Wilson's 2-for-3 performance to go with a walk. Gianna Baca went 2 for 5 with an RBI and Taylor West was 1 for 4 with three RBIs.
Baca started in the circle and threw a complete game with four strikeouts, one walk issued and five hits allowed.
Next stop is the state tournament held in Avondale beginning Friday, July 5.
Continental brought some big bats to its Little League All-Stars Area One tournament opener on Friday in Winslow and needed just four innings to complete a 17-0 rout of the host.
"Tonight's game was a complete team effort," coach Dave Merrell said. "All players got on base and contributed in all aspects of the game. Four pitchers combined for a two-hit shutout and leaves everyone rested for Monday. We've been working hard for several weeks to get to this point and it showed."
CLL will play a team to be determined on Monday.
Trey Parker hit a two-run homer in the first inning, which ended with CLL leading 9-0. Travis Gates added a triple and Landon Stewart connected for a double. CLL totaled 17 hits and its pitching crew issued just two total walks.