PHOENIX - In a game filled with ups and downs, Ironwood Ridge scored four runs with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to beat No. 7 Phoenix Greenway 7-5 and advance to the Division II state championship game.
The fourth-seeded Nighthawks will play No. 1 Peoria Sunrise Mountain at 5:30 p.m. on Monday at Farrington Softball Stadium in Tempe.
Junior catcher Robyn Porter hit a three-run home run in the second inning to give the Nighthawks (28-10) an early 3-0 lead at Rose Mofford Sports Complex, but the Demons tied the game in the top of the fifth and took a 5-3 lead in the top of the next inning.
Junior first baseman Erin Rocker acknowledged the change in the Nighthawks' mentality after losing the lead.
"When Greenway scored the two runs, our mentality was, 'OK, what can we do to win this game?'" Rocker said. "At that point we had to put the team above ourselves because we're playing for something much bigger."
With one runner on and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, sophomore shortstop Alex Rapp hit a game-tying two-run home run.
Two batters later, Rocker launched a pitch on the outside part of the plate for another two-run shot to the right side.
"I've been struggling with outside pitches all year," Rocker said. "It feels good to take one over the fence."
Ironwood Ridge coach Randy Anway, who will retire after Monday's championship game after 11 seasons, noted the understanding and experience of situations has helped his squad throughout the playoffs. The Nighthawks have played six playoff games to reach the final.
"One thing we worked on was the understanding that the emotions are going to be there; the nerves are going to be there," said Anway. "The fear is going to be there. It's learning how to deal with it and control it.
"We learned to accept it's part of the process."
• Goodyear Estrella Foothills 2, Empire 1: At Rose Mofford Sports Complex, sophomore Brittany Woolridge threw a complete-game two-hitter, striking out six, but the No. 1 Ravens were eliminated from the state tournament one win from the final.
"The game could have gotten out of hand at any moment, but they stuck together," interim coach Shannon Woolridge said. "All a coach can ask for is for them to keep their heads in the game and keep fighting."
Junior Kelsey Smith finished 2 for 4 with a solo home run, and sophomore Bailey Rominger went 2 for 3 with a double.
Sophomore pitcher Dustie Durham pitched a complete game with nine strikeouts for No. 5 Estrella Foothills.