Prep Softball: Lady Bulldogs return to state tournament
BKINGMAN – The Kingman High School softball team has waited 15 years for this day.
When the Lady Bulldogs travel to No. 9-seeded Page at 4 p.m. today, it’ll be their first appearance in the state tournament since 2003. But head coach Craig Lee doesn’t want that fact to deter his team.
“We’re very proud, but we don’t want to settle either,” he said. “It was our goal to make the playoffs the whole time – it was expected. We’re proud of the fact that we accomplished it, but at the same time we want more.”
In order for No. 24-seeded Kingman to get more, it’ll have to get past the Lady Sand Devils in a play-in contest. It won’t be easy for the Lady Bulldogs either, as Page’s lone region loss was March 10 in a 14-11 setback to Window Rock.
While the Lady Sand Devils have lost a few games during that stretch, they were all freedom contests – with the last setback being a 15-2 loss to Winslow April 12.
“They’re going to be very tough,” Lee said. “They beat Chino who’s in our region. They put the ball in play, they don’t strike out and they’re a very aggressive hitting team. We’re going to have to be on our game defensively to be able to play with them.”
The Lady Bulldogs will also need to bounce back from an 18-0 loss Monday to No. 1-ranked River Valley. Prior to that setback, Kingman had won three straight region contests and looked to be playing its best softball.
But Lee isn’t worried about a loss to the undefeated Lady Dust Devils.
“I don’t think we’ll have any problem putting it behind us,” Lee said. “We had a bad game. I think it maybe woke the kids up to understand how much they need to focus every single game.”
River Valley 9, Kingman 8
At KHS, the Kingman High School baseball team knew it was on the bubble to make the 3A State Tournament. Unfortunately, a 9-8 loss in eight innings Monday to the No. 29-ranked Dust Devils knocked the Bulldogs out of the playoffs.
“We let that one get away,” said Kingman head coach Chad Baitinger. “… We had a lack of mental focus on our defense and my pitchers weren’t on top of the game. I wish it was a different outcome.”
Rilee Araya, Dante Bravo and TJ Harviston led the Bulldogs with two hits each, while Bravo drove in two runs.
Kingman, which graduates three seniors in Anthony Fernandez, Mason Telford and Tyler Spencer, finishes the year with a 7-10 overall mark and 4-6 in the 3A West Region.