It’s getting to the point in the prep softball season when just about every game feels like a state-tournament game.
The Cougars from Glendale Raymond S. Kellis played with that sense of urgency on Tuesday (April 8), getting a strong pitching performance from senior Jessica Rojo and good fundamentals on offense for a 4-0 victory over visiting Glendale Cactus.
Kellis (15-3-1) entered the day as the No. 10 power-points team in Division II, while Cactus (15-7) was No. 5. Kellis has another big game on Thursday (April 10) when it plays host to No. 4 Buckeye Verrado.
Tuesday’s win was significant for Kellis coach Shawn Sullivan. He said he respects the coaching staff at Cactus – head coach Bartt Underwood and assistants Jeff Griffith and Dave Hyman. Sullivan played baseball when he attended Peoria High and said Underwood was one of the coaches there.
Sisters Maddie and Taylor Uden teamed up to produce Kellis’ first run in the first inning. Maddie Uden, a sophomore second baseman, ripped a triple to right field and scored on a single up the middle by Taylor Uden, a senior shortstop.
The Cougars’ second run came in the fifth when Shelby Fusich reached on a bunt single and later came around on an error.
Two more scored in the sixth. Maddie Uden hit another triple – this one an opposite-field shot to left field – and scored on a single by Rose Jaramillo. Marissa Pluguez brought Jaramillo home with a hit that deflected off the glove of the center fielder.
Maddie Uden is emerging as one of the Valley’s top all-around athletes. She also plays on the school’s volleyball and basketball teams, Sullivan said.
The way Rojo was pitching, the four runs were more than enough cushion for Kellis. She scattered five hits and struck out six.
“She has shown a lot more maturity this year, the ability to be calm and trust her defense to make plays for her,’’ Sullivan said. “She was hitting her spots much better today.’’