The ball was hit to shallow left-center field, and it appeared it would be enough to allow Phoenix Xavier Prep to send the tying run home in bottom of the seventh inning of their Division I softball showdown with Phoenix Horizon Wednesday (April 30).
Then out of nowhere, Horizon center fielder Gabby Moreno played the role of superhero and saved the day.
She left her feet, extended her glove and the ball landed in the leather just before it hit the ground.
Horizon held on for a 3-2 victory in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Huskies coach Jackie Coburn was keeping her fingers crossed that it would be enough for Horizon to get a top-eight seed in the state tournament that begins on Saturday (May 3). Horizon was No. 9 in power points entering Wednesday’s play with Xavier No. 8, so it appears that the Huskies will have climbed over the Gators.
It is expected to be sorted out on Thursday (May 1), when the Arizona Interscholastic Association releases its softball and baseball brackets at 2:30 p.m. The AIA will stream a bracket show live on AIA365.com at that time.
“Hopefully we will get that bye (opening with a home game on Tuesday, May 5) and get a few extra days of practice,’’ Coburn said.
The Huskies have won nine straight games.
“What is this, April 30?’’ Coburn asked. “We’re playing pretty well right now, just like you should be playing on April 30, getting ready to go into the tournament. You want to peak at the right time.’’
The Huskies (24-7) scored a run in the first inning on a single by Alexandra Burden. Xavier (18-7) tied it right away on Jackie Martinez’s RBI double.
Horizon took a 2-1 lead in the second inning when Xavier attempted a fake play, acting like a throw had gone into the outfield and was rolling all the way to the fence, hoping to catch a baserunner off second base and tagging her out. The Gators had tried the play on a handful of other occasions this season.
The real throw to second did get away from the Gators, and Horizon scored.
Horizon made it 3-1 in the fourth on a single by Jenna Beeso.
Horizon loaded the bases with nobody out and appeared ready to break it open in the top of the sixth. Xavier got one out on an infield pop and then got Horizon to line out to the first baseman, who tagged the runner at first before they could get back to the bag for the double play.
Xavier lined out to first to end the bottom of the sixth with runners at third and second.
“I was afraid to look,’’ Coburn said, shielding her eyes.
Another double by Martinez pulled Xavier to within 3-2 in the seventh.
Both pitchers, Horizon’s “T’ Statman and Xavier’s Lilly Giller, had to deal with an extremely narrow strike zone.
“I just told her (Statman) to pitch as well as she could and let her defense play for her,’’ Coburn said.
The defense did, particularly on the final play.