Palo Verde’s softball team had fallen into a nasty habit in recent games.
The Panthers’ approach at the plate wasn’t as sharp as it had been earlier in the year. Instead of being selective, Palo Verde often swung at less hittable pitches.
In the second inning Monday, the Panthers didn’t do much swinging at all. And walked away — literally — with three runs.
Bouncing back from a heartbreaking 13-inning loss to Legacy on Friday, the Panthers (22-6, 12-2 Northwest) maintained a share of first place in the Northwest League with a 6-0 win at Centennial.
“For a couple games, we’ve been swinging at the pitcher’s pitch and looking at our pitch,” Palo Verde coach Kelly Glass said. “Today, they had much better at-bats.”
Palo Verde parlayed three hit batters, a walk, a misplayed bunt and a misplayed swinging bunt into three runs in the second inning.
Three runs on no hits.
“You just can’t give a good team and a good pitcher runs like that,” Centennial coach Mike Livreri said.
Melissa McCormick and Palo Verde’s defense made the most of the Panthers’ good fortune.
McCormick tossed a four-hitter, walking one and striking out 10, and the Panthers committed only one error. Palo Verde center fielder Angel Council gunned down a runner at the plate in the fifth inning.
“I just wanted to play defense,” Glass said. “We haven’t been able to really finish off a game in a while, and they know it. We start getting excited and bobbling the ball around.”
Cheryl Iddings added a two-run single in the fifth inning, when Palo Verde collected all five of its hits. A Centennial error allowed another run to score in the seventh.
Although Palo Verde is tied for first with Legacy, the Panthers still would earn the league’s No. 1 seed for the Sunset Region tournament if they win their remaining two games — against Arbor View on Tuesday and Faith Lutheran on Thursday.
“I wanted to see our morale, and it was good,” Glass said. “They’re good kids. We don’t have drama. They get along and have fun together. I don’t have to force it like I’ve had to in the past.”