Needing to win three straight elimination games to reach the state championship round after a loss Thursday, the Flagstaff Girls Softball Little League 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars beat Arcadia and Thornydale to earn a rematch with Queen Creek.
Cruising past Arcadia with 19 runs Saturday night in Avondale, Flagstaff followed up with a close 12-8 victory on Sunday against Thornydale.
With 11 batters coming to the plate in Saturday’s first inning, Flagstaff scored seven runs, including a three-run triple by Koda Lakin. Another two runs came across in the second, highlighted by Destiny Villas’ double, and Jadyn Josytewa cleared the bases with a triple in the third. Finishing off the win against Arcadia, Flagstaff scored six in the fourth with a triple by Alyssa Fockler.
Kaitlyn Tso and Audre Wilson each tallied three hits, while Fockler, Lakin, Josytewa, Sam Rodriguez and Hannah Thornsley added two hits each. Tso allowed just one hit in 2 2/3 innings pitching with Thornsley finishing off the win.
A game away from a rematch with Queen Creek, Flagstaff left runners on base in the first and second inning before tying the score at 1 in the third. Tso and Josytewa singled before Abi McDermed drove home the run with two outs.
Thornydale retook the lead with three in the third and four in the fourth, pushing ahead 8-1 before Flagstaff’s 11 unanswered runs sent it to the win.
Opening the fifth inning with five straight hits, Fockler, Thornsley and Josytewa reached base before Rodriguez drove home two runs with a double. Kianna Butler singled home two more runs before Flagstaff registered its first out. Trailing 8-5, Flagstaff strung together five more singles to score four more runs and take a 9-8 lead after 12 batters came to the plate.
Flagstaff tacked on another three runs in the bottom of the fifth and Thornydale left runners on the bases in the sixth to end the game. Tso pitched four innings after replacing Thornsley at pitcher and finished 5 for 5 at the plate. Abby Schmitz added three hits while Thornley, Fockler, Josytewa and Wilson also came up with multi-hit games.
After forcing a deciding second game in the state final, Flagstaff fell to Apache Junction 3-1 in Sunday night’s title game in Queen Creek.
With monsoons rolling in and out of the area, Flagstaff and Apache Junction had their second game delayed after playing two innings. Coming out of the break, Flagstaff’s offense was shut down in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
Finishing with five hits in the game, Flagstaff came up with two-out hits by Morgan Derr and Cayelyn Gonzales to score a run, but could not keep the rally going. Maggie Auza finished with two of Flagstaff’s hits while Kristen Wendtland came up with the team's other knock.
In order to reach the winner-take-all final, Flagstaff first needed to beat Apache Junction 3-2 earlier on Sunday. Held hitless until the fifth inning, Flagstaff scored two in the sixth as Renee Josytewa’s triple was followed by singles for Natalie Hansen, Auza and Payten Schmidt.
Having tied the score 2-2, Auza’s pitching and Flagstaff’s defense did not allow a base runner to Apache Junction in the final two innings. Despite a fielder’s choice to erase a runner at third, Flagstaff came up with the winning run. Morgan Derr singled and moved up on a pair of passed balls before Josytewa drove her home with a two-out hit to right-center field.
Schmidt and Josytewa finished the game with two hits while Hansen, Auza and Nicole Almaraz added hits as well.