KINGMAN - After claiming the second seed with a 3-1 record in pool play, the Kingman Academy of Learning softball team's long and arduous Saturday ended with a second-place finish at the Skyline Tech Softball Tournament in Chandler.
KAOL (12-4) came up short in the championship game 4-1 to the East Valley Titans. East Valley had given the Tigers their only defeat in the pool-play portion of the tournament, 8-3.
"We started to make mental errors," coach Art Cassman said. "We didn't execute the bunts or steals well. You can't do that against a good team."
Cassman said that fatigue might have been a culprit in the Tigers' mental errors. He said that the team departed at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning and played five games in the baking sun before getting their shot at the championship. The final game was the first time KAOL played under the lights this season.
Cassman said that the Tigers had plenty of base runners, but several mistakes were made when attempts to advance on bounced pitches were ill advised. "A couple of times when we got picked off, I think they would have been runs," said Cassman. "It would have been closer if we kept our heads in it."
It was the failure to execute at the key moments that led to the Tigers' demise in the championship, Cassman said. "Our girls are kind of young, and as they mature the execution will come. It's tough to overcome those mental errors sometimes."
KAOL made it into the championship when the Tigers defeated host Skyline Tech, 7-1. KAOL defeated Skyline 9-3 in pool play as well.
Though the Tigers fell short of the championship Cassman said that he was definitely pleased with their effort. "Anytime you get to play in the championship game of a tournament, you're proud. It was great to see our young team perform like they did," he said. "I'm proud of them for playing the best that they could."
KAOL was supposed to host the Charter Athletic Association's North League tournament on Friday. However, the CAA has invited all of its teams in the conference to play in the state tournament. As a result, the league tournament has been cancelled.
The Tigers are slated for their first game at state to be played at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 6, in Phoenix against a team to be announced, according to the school's Web site.