With Tuesday's 8-1 win over host Mountain View in its regular-season finale, the Ironwood Ridge softball team can finally think about the playoffs.
Now that the Nighthawks are assured a first-round bye in Division II play, coach Randy Anway will use the extra time off to let his team recover. And after playing four games in six days, the team could use it.
"I gave them (today) off, which if you know me, that never happens, so I told them to enjoy it," Anway said. "We had some spots where our energy was lagging a bit, so we'll let them rest for a day, and then we'll get back at it."
Ironwood Ridge, No. 3 in Division II power points, has won 23 straight games since losing to Sabino in February and adopting a one-game-at-a-time approach.
Tuesday, the Nighthawks controlled the game from start to finish with consistent offense, strong defensive work and a nice outing from senior pitcher Makayla McAdams.
Ironwood Ridge jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning and added two more runs in the second. The Nighthawks racked up six steals in the game, and that aggressiveness on the base paths allowed them to consistently have runners in scoring position.
It wasn't until the bottom of the fifth, down 6-0, when Mountain View was able to put together enough hits for a scoring threat.
With one out and the bases loaded, Mountain View junior Shayna Adelstein singled in the Mountain Lions' first and only run of the game.
McAdams then put the clamps down, striking out the next two batters and working her way out of the jam. She finished with four strikeouts on the day.
"It was hot today, and the sun really drains your energy," McAdams said. "But when you're in a situation like that, you just have to focus on getting outs. It puts pressure on you, but at this level you have to have the mentality that you need to get outs, no matter what."
The loss likely eliminates Mountain View from the playoff picture. The Mountain Lions came in ranked 24th in Division I power points for the final playoff spot, but the loss dropped them to 26th. Their final game is today against Rincon/University.
"We could have performed better than we did," said Mountain View coach Jill Malina, a former University of Arizona softball player. "I didn't think we brought our A-game, and against a team like Ironwood you have to be there 100 percent.
"If we would have beat them, we would have been in (the playoffs), and personally I think that's motivation enough to play hard.
"But we'll see how they come out and respond in what could potentially be a couple of our girls' final game."