Palo Verde softball coach Kelly Glass didn’t have a checklist of her team’s goals for Tuesday’s game posted anywhere.
If she did, the veteran Panther coach could have put an “X” in every box.
Three pitchers combined on a five-hitter, and nine players had hits as the defending Division I state champions routed visiting Centennial 9-0 on Tuesday.
“We played Bonanza (on Monday) and we kind of went through the motions,” Glass said. “I knew they weren’t going to do that today, but I told them that this is what I expect from them every day, to come out the way they did today.”
Glass had 17 of her 18 players see action in the game with the only bit of bad news coming when sophomore cleanup hitter Cara Beatty dislocated her left shoulder on a swing in the sixth inning. Beatty, who belted a two-run home run in the third inning and finished 2-for-4, likely will miss “a couple of days,” Glass said.
Palo Verde (2-0) scored in every inning but the first, when it wasted a bases-loaded, no-out opportunity. The team pounded out 12 hits.
Beatty’s home run made it 3-0 in the third inning, the only inning in which the team didn’t have a leadoff hit.
Mackenzie McBride was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and Kiley Harrison was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI for the Panthers, who also had five sacrifice bunts.
It was more than enough support for the trio of Taylor Askland, Hayley Lupinetti and Kelsea Sweeney in the circle.
Askland, a freshman, allowed two hits and struck out three in two innings in her first varsity start. Lupinetti needed only 20 pitches to get through the next two innings before turning the game over to Sweeney, one of the top pitchers in the state. Sweeney allowed one hit and struck out four in the final three innings.
“Starting a freshman against a quality team, I think a lot of people probably thought I was nuts, but I knew she would do it,” Glass said. “All three of them on any given day, I feel confident enough to give them the ball and know that they’re going to compete.”
The Panthers and Bulldogs (1-1) have combined to win the last four large-school state titles and are expected to be in the title chase again this year.
“I just want them to keep getting better, and they got better from (Monday) to today,” Glass said. “My job is to make sure they peak at the right time. I’m trying to make them gradually get better.”
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5230.