Britney Cato had one request of her Shadow Ridge teammates before Thursday’s game.
“I told the team that we needed to jump on (Durango) early,” said Cato, a senior third baseman. “We’ve been jumping on teams later in games, and we just needed to jump out on them early.”
The Mustangs responded with five runs in the bottom of the first inning on their way to a 6-0 win over Durango in the winners’ bracket final of the Sunset Region tournament at Majestic Park.
Shadow Ridge (25-10), the two-time defending region champion, will meet either Durango or Centennial in the championship today at 5 p.m. If the Mustangs win, they’ll advance to state. If not, they’ll play again at 7 p.m. with that winner going to state.
Shadow Ridge had two walks and four hits — three of them with two outs — in the first inning, highlighted by Cato’s two-run single.
“We came out hitting the ball well today,” said Shadow Ridge coach Cindy Winter. “It gave us a boost.”
But the keys to the inning were the walks to leadoff batter Courtney Winnett and No. 3 hitter Rae-Ann Bohm.
Winnett saw seven pitches in her plate appearance. Bohm worked a 10-pitch walk, allowing her teammates to see all of the pitches in Durango starter Ashley Hall’s arsenal.
“That was big. Hitting later in the lineup, I can see what the pitcher is throwing,” said Cato, who hit sixth Thursday. “I try to figure out her sequence, so when I get up there I know what she’s going to do.”
Mandy Harmon, Mary Jordan and Casey Velarde added singles in the inning to give Harmon way more run support than she needed.
After tossing a no-hitter on Tuesday and a one-hitter Wednesday, Harmon allowed two first-inning hits and that was it. She retired the final 18 Trailblazers in order, the third straight game in which she has retired at least the final 15 batters.
Opposing hitters are 3-for-66 (.045) in three tournament games against Harmon, who has received near flawless support from her defense.
“We’re getting some great defensive plays,” Winter said.
Harmon hasn’t allowed a run since April 24. In her last six games, dating to the regular season, Harmon has thrown 41 consecutive scoreless innings, allowing a total of nine hits. Shadow Ridge had 10 hits Thursday.
“It’s really easy to play defense,” Cato said. “I know if the ball is hit to me, it probably isn’t going to be hit very hard. I’m just staying on my toes and being ready for every pitch.”
Velarde went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs for the Mustangs. Jordan was 2-for-4 and Harmon 2-for-4.
Durango (26-8) will face Centennial in the losers’ bracket final today at 3 p.m.
Centennial 4, Cimarron-Memorial 1 — Jennifer Watkins tossed a three-hitter with four strikeouts as Centennial (25-8) won its second game of the day to advance to the losers’ bracket final.
Katie Lee’s two-run double in the third inning put the Bulldogs ahead for good.
Centennial ran its lead to 4-0 in the fifth before Cimarron (23-11) loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth inning. Jessica White singled to drive in one run before Watkins got out of the jam.
Kylie Bartlett and Johnna Brown each went 2-for-3 with Brown also driving in a run for the Bulldogs. Bartlett has 10 hits in four games in the tournament.
Centennial 4, Bonanza 2 — Juelaine Noa’s two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning pulled Centennial out of a 2-1 deficit and rallied the Bulldogs past Bonanza (29-8) in an elimination game.
Lindsay Konopelko, who homered in the fourth inning, led off the sixth with a double. Sierra Golia followed with a single and moved to second on a passed ball before Noa’s hit brought home Golia and courtesy runner Shannon Brown.
Paige Reese’s two-out double scored pinch-runner Camille Castro.
Noa went 3-for-3. Konopelko, who earned the win in relief, was 2-for-2. Bartlett went 2-for-4.
Bonanza’s Emily Osborn was 3-for-4 and scored both runs. Sam Snyder was 2-for-3 with a double.
Cimarron-Memorial 6, Arbor View 0 — Carrie Sheehan tossed a three-hit shutout as the Spartans eliminated Arbor View (17-16).
White was 2-for-3 with a solo homer and two RBIs for the Spartans, who scored three runs in the second inning.
Paige Savage and Hannah Williams also went 2-for-3 for Cimarron. Savage doubled and had two RBIs.
Tiffanee Anderson was 2-for-3 with a double for the Aggies.