As Canyon del Oro High senior Makenzie Sullivan walked up to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning in Tuesday night’s Division II state playoff game, she realized a home run would lock up the win.
One pitch later, the game was over.
Sullivan smacked a three-run shot over the right-field fence and fourth-seeded CDO beat No. 14 Marana 11-0 in five innings in a mercy-rule-shortened elimination game at Cherry Field to keep its season going at least one more game.
“I was hoping for a base hit, but a home run is better,” Sullivan said. “It means the world to us to be moving on.
“We’re very pumped; we’re definitely ready for our next game.”
The Dorados (26-7) will play No. 1 Buckeye Verrado today at 6:30 p.m. at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix with a chance to pull within one win of reaching the state finals.
Tuesday night marked CDO’s first trip back to Tucson High’s home field since losing 17-0 to No. 5 Ironwood Ridge last Thursday in the third round of the playoffs. Naturally, coach Stephanie Nicholson was very happy with the outcome this time around. Since that loss, the Dorados have outscored opponents 18-1 in two games.
“We have a short memory, so coming back out on this field wasn’t going to have any impression on us based on what happened last time,” Nicholson said. “I think we were ready to do a good job.”
It was also the first time back in the circle for sophomore pitcher Randi Longville since the loss last week, and she couldn’t have looked any better.
Her previous outing lasted just 3ª innings as she yielded nine hits and six runs. Against the Tigers on Tuesday, Longville gave up just one hit, walked two batters and struck out six for the win.
“We were all in the hole against I-Ridge and I needed to get out of that quickly, so this game was a perfect opportunity to do that,” said Longville, who retired 12 of the last 13 batters she faced. “It feels like we got redemption on this field.”
While CDO played perfect defense, Marana (25-9) made some crucial errors that allowed the Dorados to take control of the game.
The first came in the bottom of the third inning, when Sullivan hit a grounder to second with two outs, but the fielder couldn’t get a handle on the ball to end the inning. Instead, Carli Campbell scored on the play and Samantha Nettling hit an RBI-single to right in the next at-bat to put CDO up 2-0.
Things really came unraveled in the bottom of the fourth when two runs scored on a throwing error following a bunt by Breanna Griesser. Then the Dorados began to string together some hits and take control of the game leading up to Sullivan’s walk-off home run.
“The three playoff games we won, the shoe was on the other foot where we didn’t make any mistakes and the other team did,” Marana coach George Corona said. “We didn’t conquer the world but, for us, it was a valuable experience and we loved spending time together.”