SAFFORD — Morenci hosted Gila Valley softball at the Graham County Fairgrounds on Tuesday.

The game was tied at 5-5 going into the final inning, but Gila Valley scored three more runs, just enough to beat Morenci’s final two runs, winning, 8-7, in six innings.

Morenci took an early three-run lead in the bottom of the first. Gila Valley answered with three runs in the second. Morenci pulled ahead by two in the third, and Gila Valley managed to tie it back up in the top of the fifth before scoring three more runs in the sixth.

Morenci scored two more runs in the bottom of the inning and was in position to get the go-ahead run with one out left.

Morenci head coach Ben Morales said, “We’ve been doing really well. Safford allows us to be in this tournament, which we appreciate, and we just got back from a Phoenix tournament and took third place in Class C. We don’t have all our girls today. We’re playing well and we’re learning a lot.”

Morenci played four games in two days, and then turned around and came to Safford for yet another game. If the team had made it into the top two, that would have qualified Morenci to advance to the Southwest Nationals.

“All these girls are junior high girls. A couple of them will be moving on to high school. They’re definitely gaining experience,” Morales said.

Gila Valley head coach Amber Caldwell said, “We’ve been struggling all over the place, with sickness and players dropping out. We’ve got only 10 players. These girls have played with no subs all season, but they’re doing great.”

When asked about the team’s first win of the summer season, Caldwell said, “I’m so excited, so proud. The teamwork was apparent, for sure. My team is definitely the underdog in the league this season. I have never coached softball before, so it has been a real challenge for these girls. The league was down a coach for majors, so I stepped up; and it’s been a struggle, to say the least, but tonight these girls showed up and let everyone know what real teamwork looks like. They wanted the win and gave 100 percent to get it. I couldn’t be prouder of them. First win of the season.”

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