Green Valley softball coach Lauren Taylor predicted that Friday’s Sunrise Region championship would come down to the first team to make a big mistake.
She was right.
The Gators scored two runs on a pair of critical Silverado miscues in the fifth inning, and hung on for a 7-5 victory over the Skyhawks in the title game.
The victory lifted Green Valley (23-9) into next week’s Division I state tournament, which will begin Thursday at UNLV.
Silverado (12-8) will meet Palo Verde (26-7) at 10 a.m. today at Bishop Gorman, with the winner also advancing.
The Gators had blown all of an early 5-0 lead Friday when they came to bat in the bottom of the fifth inning.
With a runner on first and the score tied at 5, Green Valley’s Fenixx Henderson bounced a single over first base. The Skyhawks committed two errors on the play, allowing both Gators to score.
The 7-5 lead held the rest of the way.
“You never know when errors are going to happen,” Taylor said. “But you’ve got to make them pay when they make mistakes.”
Green Valley took control early, grabbing a 5-0 lead on a three-run homer by Henderson in the first inning and two more runs in the second.
But Silverado battled back with two runs in the third, and tied it in the fifth on Brandi Splinter’s two-run homer.
“In my mind, there was never a point where we weren’t going to settle down and start hitting again,” said Taylor, whose squad is 4-0 against Silverado this season.
Chelsea Perez walked to lead off Green Valley’s half of the fifth inning, setting up the decisive play which came with one out.
“I think we picked up right where we left off on Wednesday,” said Taylor, whose team rolled to a 10-3 victory over the Skyhawks in the winners’ bracket final. “We knew Silverado had some bats, but we think we’re just as strong or stronger.”
Henderson, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, also tossed all seven innings to earn the victory. Teammates Cori Sutton and Megan Barrera each had two hits.
Ari Monturio went 2-for-4 with three RBIs to lead Silverado.
Though Taylor’s team will go into the state tourney having won 10 of its last 12 games, Taylor warned that the momentum means little.