Gilbert's softball team was determined not to let lighning (in this case Thunder) strike twice.
After getting knocked off and eliminated last year in the second round by the then No. 20 seeded Lady Thunder, No. 1 Gilbert built a big lead in the middle innings and held off a determined rally for an 8-6 win over No. 17 Desert Vista in Division I state tournament second-round action at Gilbert High.
Gilbert (25-6) advances to meet No. 9 Xavier on Thursday May 6 in the first round of double-elimination play with the field now pared to the Eilite 8 at Rose Mofford Softball Complex in Phoenix. Game time is 7:30 p.m. Xavier edged No. 8 Horizon, 4-3, to advance. Desert Vista, with as many as six freshmen starting this season, finished its season 12-14.
Gilbert erased a brief 1-0 deficit, courtesty of a solo homer to center by Desert Vista's Kaylee Dietrich in the second. The Lady Tigets scored three times in the third to take the lead for good thanks to RBIs from Dani Nelson and winning pitcher Lynsey Duncan.
Gilbert added three more runs in the fourth to improve its lead to 6-1. Alex Astorga's double led to base runner Dani Bartholf scoring on a throwing error and Astorga tallied right behind as the ball rattled around the home plate area before Desert Vista could recover and make a throw to the plate. Emma Ocker followed with a single, stole second, went to third on a throwing error and scored on a wild pitch to cap the inning.
Gilbert got a bloop two-run single by Amanda Smith in the bottom of the fifth. That negated Desert Vista's two-run rally in the top of the frame. Gilbert took an 8-3 lead to the seventh.
But Desert Vista kept battling to the finish. It scored three runs and had the tying run at the plate with the score 8-6. Duncan fanned the final hitter to end the game.
Nelson and Smith led Gilbert with two hits apiece while Astorga and Emma Ocker scored twice each. Dietrich was 2-for-4 with three e RBI for Desert Vista. Leadoff hitter MacKenzie Moore led the Lady Thunder with three hits.
RED MOUNTAIN 6, PINNACLE 0: The four-time defending champion Lady Lions (25-5-1) belted two homers and got two-hit ,shutout pitching from Bre Macha in eliminating the visiting Lady Pioneers.
Macha struck out 13 and walked two helping Red Mountain to Thursday's next round. The second-seeded Lady Lions take on No. 7 Chaparral at 7:30 p.m. at Rose Mofford Softball Complex. Chaparral blanked Desert Ridge, 3-0, to advance. It will be a rematch of last year's title game.
The hitting standout Tuesday for Red Mountain was senior Marian Ruf, in just her second game back from injury that saw her miss seven games. Ruf lifted a sacrifice fly in the third inning to open the scoring. She added a three-run homer to right-center in the fifth. Alyssa Fernandez also homered for Red Mountain and McKenzia Gutierrez doubled twice and knocked in a run.
Savannah Kirkpatrick and Alex Wiley chipped in with two hits each. Rylie Nance and Kourtney Pock each had singles for Pinnacle (18-15).
Other D-I second-round scores -- Hamilton 11, North Canyon 4; Mountain Ridge 19, Boulder Creek 0; Sandra Day O'Connor 6, Corona del Sol 5 and Millennium 5, Basha 1.