KINGMAN – Last season, the Kingman Academy softball team came up short in the first round of the state tournament with an extra-inning loss to Show Low. While that setback wasn’t an easy way to end the season, the Lady Tigers used it as a learning experience and carried it over to this season.
That was clearly evident Friday afternoon as No. 11-ranked Kingman Academy remained unbeaten in 2A West with an 11-0 rout of Parker in five innings at Southside Park.
“The girls came in with a pretty good mindset this year,” Lady Tigers softball coach Tim Pena said. “Their goal was to not just play in the playoffs, but go as deep as we can get. As long as we continue to stay healthy and work hard, I have no doubt in my mind that we can get to the finals.”
Kingman Academy (13-4, 9-0 in 2A West) is in good shape as it has already clinched the region championship and a bid to the state tournament. That doesn’t mean the Lady Tigers are overlooking what happened last season.
“From last year, it just makes us want to go harder, get further and win,” Kingman Academy’s Cassidy Hobbs said.
Pena knows Hobbs and her fellow Lady Tigers have put in a lot of hard work and he is proud of their achievements, but he mentioned the team can still get better each game.
“We just want to come out and continue to do the same things that we’ve been doing regardless of who we’re playing,” Pena said. “Yeah, we clinched early and that’s great for us. We’re proud of the girls by that accomplishment, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Even with that said, Kingman Academy demonstrated its talent Friday and proved it can be a tough team to beat. Jessica Plew led the way as she threw a one-hitter with nine strikeouts. Plew also helped her own cause at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a run batted in. She was quick to give her teammates credit though.
“It’s great,” Plew said. “I’m just really proud of everyone coming out and doing such a great job in our conference and in our section. Just hitting the ball well and playing really good defense.”
Fellow Lady Tiger Shaunti Short drove in three runs, while Kassidy Campbell finished with two hits and a pair of RBIs. Chloe Elliot rounded out the top performers, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Kingman Academy wraps up the regular season on the road at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday against Parker and Plew knows the Lady Tigers just need to keep it rolling.
“We just have to be confident at the plate and on defense,” she said. “Just stay within ourselves and not get intimidated by other teams. Just play our game.”
That mentality is shared by Pena as he isn’t looking ahead to the playoffs, but instead focused on the team continuing to play as one.
“Every game is important, every game you keep that team chemistry rolling,” he said. “Regardless of whoever we’re playing, we come out and play our game. Play hard and don’t overlook anybody.”