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With the Division II state playoffs fast approaching, Salpointe continues to solidify themselves as the top-ranked team in the state. A 13-1 record in games that count along with a perfect 8-0 record in their section is sure to earn the Lancers a super-ranking and the first-round bye that goes along with it.
A first-round bye will put Salpointe one game away from the double-elimination round where anything becomes possible. Their first game will take place on Tuesday, May 5.
Although not a sectional game, the Lancers defeated Sahuaro 11-4 Tuesday to bring them one step closer to their goal. Salpointe can claim a Section VI title if the team defeats Casa Grande on Thursday. The Lancers will hold all the tiebreakers with Canyon del Oro and Catalina Foothills.
Sahuaro fell to 9-6 in power-ranking games with a couple of difficult section games remaining against Tucson and Sunnyside.
The Badgers (12-1-1, 7-0-1) control Section II. A huge win over CDO helped vault Tucson to a No. 2 ranking. The Badgers will need a couple more section wins to clinch their title.
Sahuaro took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first after picking up four hits on University of Arizona recruit Jio Orozco. Orozco is a two-time USA Baseball National Team member and is slated to be drafted. With a dozen scouts in the stands, Orozco found his groove and finished with eight strikeouts.
The Cougars gave up five runs in the bottom of the first and the Lancers scored in every inning to pull out the 11-4 win. Robby Campillo hit a three-run shot in the first to highlight the comeback.
Orozco helped his own cause by going 3-4 with a triple and an RBI. Donny Sands went 2-4 with a two-RBI double.
Sahuaro was able to add two more runs in the sixth on RBIs from Dylan Sanchez and Alex Wood. The Cougars sent three pitchers to the mound with Brandon Holbert getting the start. Stockton Pringle took over in the third and Phillip Hindes took the ball in the fifth.
Ernesto Romero pitched the seventh for Salpointe.
Catalina Foothills (10-4, 5-1) is 2-1 against Salpointe this year but the two wins came during invitational play and do not count towards power ranking. The Falcons, along with brothers Dominic, Anthony and Dante DeNiro, have the most difficult remaining schedule with games against CDO and Ironwood Ridge waiting for them.
On the softball diamond, Salpointe (14-1, 8-0) may have returned to the top of the Division II rankings with their 8-7 victory over Sahuaro (12-3-1, 7-0) in extra innings.
Down 5-0 after the first inning, the Lancers plated three in the third and another in the fourth to draw within one run at 5-4. Sahuaro would add two more in the fifth but Salpointe would tie things up in the bottom of the sixth.
Delfina Morales (no relation) gave up a couple of hits in the first inning but a couple of errors helped put her in a 5-0 hole. Morales struck out the side in the second and finished with 10 strikeouts in the game.
Meanwhile, Annie Scarangella hit a two-run shot in the third to help spark the comeback. Andie Larkins collected nine strikeouts in the game but the Lancers kept hitting back until they tied the game up with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
Scarangella doubled and then Morales followed with an RBI triple. Erika Marquez completed the comeback with a two-run shot of her own.
Morales shut Sahuaro down in the sixth and seventh with four straight strikeouts. Sahuaro stranded a runner at second in the top of the eighth. Larkins held Salpointe in the seventh but Yannira Acuña singled to start off the bottom of the eighth.
Scarangella drew a walk and Morales knocked in the winning run. Morales finished 3-4 with two RBI. Acuña went 4-5 and Scarangella was 3-4.
Sahuaro can clinch the Section II championship if they beat Buena (5-9, 3-4) on Wednesday at home. Salpointe won the Section VI title on Monday. The section champions and second place finishers earn automatic bids to the state playoffs.
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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on AZPreps365.com and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com