3/27/2013 6:00:00 AM Kingman High's bats come alive on tournament's final day
Buckeye Youngker’s Brianna Esqueda is called out while trying to stretch her leadoff triple into an inside-the-park home run in the top of the first inning of Saturday’s championship game of the Coca Cola Invitational at Centennial Park with Kingman High. KHS catcher Juanitta Cooper’s tag on Esqueda in the first would later prove vital in the Lady Bulldogs’ 7-6 win. Cooper suffered a bruised knee during the play but stayed in the game and hit a double in the fourth inning. RODNEY HAAS/Miner
KINGMAN - In Friday's opening game at the Coca Cola Invitational at Centennial Park, the Lady Bulldogs collected five hits in a 2-1 loss to Glendale Copper Canyon. A few days earlier, Kingman High only mustered two hits in a loss to Bullhead City Mohave.
On Saturday, however, KHS' bats finally woke up in a big way. In three games, Kingman pounded out 42 hits and scored 30 runs en route to winning three games to capture the tournament championship.
"Now it has to be a repeat like it was two years ago," coach Dave Vance said of his team's seven-game winning streak following the tournament. "It can't stop here. Enjoy this, but it's back to work on Monday."
The other key to Saturday's wins was getting hits with runners on base, something that didn't occur on Friday.
In the championship game with Buckeye Youngker, the Lady Roughriders scored six runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 6-0 lead. But KHS battled back with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning thanks to timely hits by Toria Williams and Juanitta Cooper to cut the lead to 6-2.
In the sixth, the Lady Bulldogs cut the lead to 6-4 thanks to a double from Raney Wilson and a base hit by Williams. Then they scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh on three hits, including a game-winning hit by Williams to give KHS a 7-6 win.
"You have to go up with confidence and know that you're going to hit the ball," Williams said. "We just came alive. I think our confidence is pretty sky-high right now and I think we are going to do good.
"I don't think anything is going to knock us down for a while."
The Lady Bulldogs looked to carry their newfound confidence into Tuesday's game with Prescott and will travel to Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain on Thursday before returning home April 3 against Parker.
"Three or four weeks ago, they would've folded and they would've backed down," Vance said. "They just kept battling and that was the key. I'm extremely proud of them.
"Just the way the kept plugging along. They just never quit, and I think that was a key thing for them to learn. You can see the growth from day one and hopefully the confidence will carry over."