Gilbert High's Dani Nelson slugged an inside-the-park home run in the third inning to break a tie and reserve catcher Tori Gonzalez made a splash with a big at-bat in the fifth inning pacing the Lady Tigers to a 4-1 victory on Tuesday afternoon over Pinnacle on the first day of the week-long Desert Mountain Softball Invitational at Horizon Park.
Nelson, a four-year starter with a cannon for an arm at shortstop, liked going to the opposite field in Tuesday's contest. Nelson lined into a double play to right field in the first inning and lofted deep fly outs to right in the fifth and sixth. Her long blast in the third hit the top of the temporary fence as Pinnacle right fielder McKenna Adams tried in vain to snare it.
Nelson, who signed with ASU in November, hustled out of the batter's box and although the ball didn't bound far away from Adams, Nelson was able to circle the bases and beat a relay throw to home. The homer gave Gilbert the lead back, 2-1, after Pinnacle had tied the game in the top of the inning.
Gilbert (7-2), which outhit Pinnacle 11-3, added two insurance runs with two outs in the fifth in a sophomore's varsity debut. Catcher Tori Gonzalez's first varsity at-bat (she was brought up from the JV) was outstanding as she fought off several 1-2 pitches with the bases loaded before singling sharply up the middle to score Dani Bartholf and Alexa Lecometros.
"Welcome to the varsity with the bases loaded," Gilbert coach Shaundra Gutierrez said. "She came through with a clutch at-bat."
Gonzalez entered in the top of the fifth to take over catching duties as starting catcher and senior Taylor McCord moved to the circle. McCord, headed to Marshall to play softball, tossed three innings of no-hit, shutout relief of starter and winning pitcher Lynsey Duncan. Duncan allowed three hits and an unearned run in her four innings. Two of the hits Duncan yielded were infield hits.
"That was the first time Taylor's pitched since her freshman year," Gutierrez said. "She did well finishing up for Lynsey."
Lecometros delivered three of Gilbert's hits, scored a run and drove in a run with a first-inning single. Alyssa Gonzalez was 2-for-3 for Gilbert hitting in the ninth spot.
Pinnacle (6-4) was limited to three singles and its 3-4-5 hitters were stymied to the tune of 0-for-8. Pinnacle played its second game of four in non-bracket play late Tuesday night against Red Mountain. Gilbert plays its second tournament game Wednesday night when it takes on Horizon.