Legacy softball coach Dan Casel continues to refer to his team’s “season of firsts.”
The Longhorns almost added two items to a growing list Wednesday, but definitely got the one they wanted most.
Playing in the second postseason game in school history, Legacy (27-3) advanced to its first winners’ bracket final of the Sunset Region tournament with a 2-1 win over Arbor View — and nearly did it without a hit.
“Hard work got this one done,” Casel said. “We’ve done it in big spots all year. We’ve just come through in the clutch. We come through when we need to.
“Now we’re the first team to get to the winners’ bracket finals.”
The Longhorns answered Arbor View’s run in the top of the fifth inning with two of their own in the bottom of the inning, taking the lead before Legacy collected its only hit of the game.
Sierra Pico and Legacy’s defense took care of the rest. Pico allowed only three hits, struck out eight and got a game-ending unassisted double play from shortstop Darcey Cochran to advance the Longhorns into the winners’ final against Palo Verde on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Legacy’s Danielle Pick worked a seven-pitch walk to start the bottom of the fifth inning and scored when Katrina Rand’s bunt was thrown down the right-field line.
Rand went all the way to third on the play, and came home on Alexis Fuller’s squeeze bunt. Arbor View fielded the bunt cleanly and threw home, but Rand appeared to beat the tag.
Two batters later, No. 9 hitter Hannah Weld singled through the left side — the only hit allowed by Aggies’ pitcher Amanda Jones, who struck out eight.
“We’ve been together for four years, and this team has just jelled,” Casel said. “I believe in my girls.”
Nichole Diaz had two hits for the Aggies, including an RBI single in the top of the fifth inning to plate Kristina Billante with Arbor View’s lone run.
The Aggies had a chance to tie the game in the seventh inning, when the first two batters reached on a hit by pitch and a walk. But Pico collected a strikeout and Cochran grabbed a line drive to start the double play to end the threat and the game.
Arbor View (18-8) will meet Centennial in an elimination game at 4 p.m.
Palo Verde 3, Durango 0 — Melissa McCormick tossed a two-hitter and struck out 14, including eight of the first nine Durango batters, as the Panthers (25-7) advanced to meet Legacy in the winners’ bracket final.
“Missy, Erika (Stratton, Palo Verde’s catcher) and I did a much better job of communicating,” Palo Verde coach Kelly Glass said. “We sat down and talked about batters. We studied them a little bit more.”
Danielle Hearn and Andi Molin each had two hits and scored a run for Palo Verde, which scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings.
Durango (22-7), which had only three base runners in the game, will meet Bonanza in an elimination game Thursday at 4 p.m.
Centennial 10, Clark 5 — Taylor Huntly and Alyssa Finger each homered to help the Bulldogs (20-12-1) overcome an early 3-0 deficit and eliminate the Chargers (16-15).
Huntly, Finger, Camille Castro and Alyssa Hotman each added two hits for Centennial, which scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning to break a 5-5 tie.
Anna Jaehn was 2-for-4 for Clark.
Bonanza 13, Desert Oasis 3 — Alex Teed doubled twice and had two RBIs, and the Bengals’ Nos. 8 and 9 hitters reached base four times each as Bonanza (20-10-1) eliminated the Diamondbacks (17-16).
Michelle Miller was 2-for-3 with a home run, three runs and two RBIs for Bonanza. Taylor Gordy, Jessica Delp and Emily Osborn added two hits apiece for the Bengals.
Holly O’Hara went 2-for-2 for Desert Oasis.