GLENDALE — No. 4 Morenci faced No. 1 Benson in the Division II softball semifinals Friday.
The Lady Wildcats, who went 10-3 in the regular season, barreled through the early rounds; the Cinderella season came to an end when Benson knocked out Morenci, 4-1.
The Lady ‘Cats suffered only one blowout loss the entire year — to Safford, who competes in 3A. They lost by just one to four runs during the rest of the season and wrecked 11 teams they faced, demonstrating why they belonged in the state playoffs. No. 1 Benson felt the fire while holding a narrow lead for most of the game.
Benson head coach Brittney Batten said, “Morenci is a great team. It sucks having to come all the way up here to play them in the semifinals, but . . . they did a great job again today. Our girls had a game plan and executed well. We knew what Morenci was going to try and do, and the girls did an expert job of coming out and handling it.”
Benson scored early in the first inning while denying Morenci many chances to get on base from start to finish. Benson pitcher Katie Sherman gave up three hits, walked two and struck out three.
The rest of the time, the Lady Wildcats made solid contact with the ball but just had one of those days where it went right to defenders. Still, a double-steal in the fifth turned into the ‘Cats’ lone run of the game.
Defensively, the girls were on it most of the time; however, a few errors cost them on top of the big hits Benson made.
Morenci head coach Joe Garcia said, “Benson is a quality opponent. They do things the right way, and our girls came out and battled. Couldn’t be prouder of them. They showed what it meant to be a Wildcat. Our girls are going to take the foundation these seniors have set, this tradition of excellent; our young girls are going to take this and run with it. We’re going to work hard and, hopefully, be back here again. I’m super proud of our seniors. They do things the right way. Everything I’ve asked of them, they’ve done. Couldn’t be prouder.”
Senior Jaim’ee Rodriguez pitched her final Lady Wildcats complete game. She gave up four runs on 11 hits and two walks. She struck out two.
Devanie Medina led Morenci offensively with the team’s lone run and a single base hit. Hunter Lindsey and Angel Ontiveros were able to hit a single apiece as well.
Morenci ends the year with a 12-4 record. The Lady ‘Cats graduate six — Cassi Apodaca, Destiny Chavarria, Heather Lee, Kayla Cueto, Dominique Garcia and Rodriguez.