The Show Low High School softball team hoped to get past teams from its own backyard after a hotly contested 3A East race concluded and state playoffs began in late April.
The East Region teams dominated the top seeds as the top eight faced off with eight Conference Play-in winners in the first round of the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division 3A Softball Championships at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix on April 27.
Winslow went to the state playoffs as the No. 1 team, Payson was No. 3, Snowflake fourth, Show Low fifth and Blue Ridge No. 6.
The Cougars met Ft. Defiance Window Rock in the first round and won a well-contested game 8-3.
In the second round on Friday, May 3, Show Low met No. 4 Snowflake, a familiar opponent.
The game was much anticipated, since the teams had split their two meetings during the regular season in games where the winning run was scored in the bottom of the seventh, and White Mountain fans flocked to the game, which more than lived up to the hype.
The Lobos scored a run in the second and third innings to take a 2-0 lead.
Show Low cut it to a one-run deficit on Addie Clark’s solo home run in the top of the sixth.
The Cougars tied the game with a run in the top of the seventh.
The teams again decided the outcome in a dramatic finale, as the Lobos won it in the bottom of the seventh. Lobo leadoff batter Anna Berger got on base and Hallie McCray followed with a rip to the outfield to score the winning run.
Show Low finished the season with 19 wins, eight losses and two ties.
Clark was 3-for-4, with a double and the home run, to lead the Cougars, who got eight hits.
Show Low pitchers Nicole Roten and Katelin Goodman scattered 10 Lobo hits over the seven innings. One of the three runs were earned.
The Cougars’ opening round win began as a pitchers’ duel. Show Low scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings to open the scoring.
Goodman hit a home run and drove in three Cougar runs in the 8-3 win. Harlie Hitchcock was 2-for-3 with two RBI and Hannah Hall was 1-for-3 with two RBI. Corinne Collins was 2-for-3 with a double and one RBI, as Show Low got 10 hits.
“We definitely didn’t underestimate them, Window Rock is a good ball club,” said Show Low head coach Byron Clark. They have great pitching and put the ball in play.”
Clark allowed six Scout hits over the seven innings, gave up no earned runs, walked two batters and struck out 11 for the win.
“It was not my best game,” said the sophomore. “I knew my defense would bring me up. Our defense never had a lack of control.”
Show Low was one of about 10 teams in the D3 playoffs with a shot at winning the title. The East and South regions, as expected, had several contenders and each was represented in the title game, where Tucson Sabino defeated Snowflake for the championship.
Show Low’s coaches told the players they were right where they needed to be all year long. “We made only small adjustments each time,” Coach Clark said.