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SUNSET SOFTBALL: Palo Verde wakes up, shakes Shadow Ridge to reach final

After watching her team commit two errors in the third inning and already trailing in its Sunset Region tournament game Thursday, Palo Verde coach Kelly Glass pulled the Panthers down the right-field line for a brief tongue-lashing.

It turned out to be the wake-up call they needed.

Palo Verde erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the third and cruised to an 8-2 win over Shadow Ridge in the winners’ bracket final at Bishop Gorman.

Palo Verde (30-8) advances to the region final at 1 p.m. Saturday at Foothill.

“I told them that at this point in the season, they have to be close to perfect in order to achieve the goals they set,” Glass said. “They needed to clean up the defense and put more pressure on their defense.”

The Panthers committed two fielding errors in the third but got out of the inning trailing only 1-0.

Glass, who didn’t huddle with her team in the first two innings, had some choice words that quickly got her team’s attention.

“We needed to do our job with the sticks, maybe not in those words, but close enough,” Glass said.

Makall Whetten drilled the first pitch of the bottom of the third inning into the left-field corner for a double, and her teammates followed her cue.

Kiley Harrison had a bunt single, and Whetten scored when the throw to first went into right field.

After a sacrifice bunt, Grace Chavez walked and Kali Tomlinson singled to load the bases. Dejanae Gage was hit by a pitch to score Harrison and give Palo Verde a 2-1 lead.

Lauren Oxford’s misplayed grounder scored another run. Emily Guthrie was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Jordan Menke followed with a two-run single. A wild pitch brought home the seventh run.

“They just come together as a team when the time is right,” Glass said. “They kind of make me grow some gray hairs, and then they just bust it open.”

Kelsea Sweeney took care of the rest, allowing five hits and no walks with three strikeouts.

Tomlinson finished 3-for-4 with a double, and Harrison was 2-for-4 for Palo Verde, which is bidding for its second straight state title.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” Glass said. “There’s just something special about this group of girls. I had a different dynamic last year. This group is just something that I have never seen before. They read each other’s minds, and they’re just all on the same page.”

Justin Garganese hit two solo home runs for the Mustangs (13-5), who will face either Arbor View or Centennial for a spot in the region final at 4 p.m. today at Gorman.

Arbor View 13, Durango 2 — Marissa Bachman’s three-run home run capped a six-run first inning that helped the Aggies rout the Traiblazers in five innings.

Bachman finished 3-for-3 with five RBIs, and Kellie Anderson was 3-for-3 with an RBI for Arbor View (21-8), which will face Centennial (23-13) in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Friday at Gorman.

Terren Vinson was 2-for-3 with two RBIs for Arbor View.

Kaitlyn O’Hearn went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs, and Brooke Alves was 2-for-3 with an RBI for Durango (14-19).

Centennial 12, Bishop Gorman 2 — Jaden Tate was 3-for-4 with a home run, three runs and two RBIs to help the Bulldogs down the Gaels in five innings.

Stephanie Day was 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs, and Sonja Lawrence went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI for Centennial, which scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning. Ava Dolan was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI for Centennial.

Ashley Witucki was 2-for-3 for Gorman (13-21-1).

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