When the ball was caught for the final out, Ironwood Ridge softball pitcher Emily Robinson said her mind “went blank.’’
A few seconds later, she looked around and realized everything was real – the Nighthawks had captured the Division II state championship with a 2-1 victory over Tucson-area rival Canyon del Oro on Monday (May 19) at Arizona State’s Farrington Stadium.
Fifth-seeded Ironwood Ridge (28-7) won its first championship after three previous runner-up finishes – 2013, 2011 and 2008. Fourth-seeded CDO (28-8) had been aiming for its eighth state crown.
“It was unfinished business for us,’’ said Robinson, who was 19-3 this season.
Ironwood Ridge had defeated CDO 17-0 in five innings earlier in the tournament, knocking the Dorados into the elimination round, but almost nobody expected that to happen again.
The title contest had a good turnout of fans – especially considering the long drive from the Oro Valley community.
The victory was especially rewarding for Ironwood Ridge coach Rich Alday, who took over the program from long-time coach Randy Anway after a lengthy stay for Alday as head baseball coach at Pima Community (junior) College in Tucson.
“It’s a little different,’’ he said when asked about how it was to coach a “new’ sport.
“The game is more condensed, but it was a lot of fun.’’
Ironwood Ridge took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when leadoff hitter Skyler Bracety reached on an error and later came home on a bases-loaded walk to Lu Olson.
The Nighthawks made it 2-0 one inning later when Reyna Bondi led off with a single and scored on a base hit by Robyn Porter.
CDO put its run on the board in the fourth when Rebecca Ziegler singled to lead off and later scored on a base hit by Monique Castillo that was bobbled by the center fielder for an error.
Robinson was steady throughout the contest.
She gave up five hits and struck out four.
The rise ball was working well, and she said having a close game helped her maintain her focus.
“I just love the intensity,’’ she said.
“She did it by keeping the ball in play,’’ Alday said. “She wanted to win.’’