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Verrado thumps Barry Goldwater, earns sweep
Submitted by Casey Pritchard on Wed, 04/12/2017 - 12:00am
Verrado had a two-day slip up in power-points games, but aside from that, the Lady Vipers have been unstoppable.
Verrado's latest triumph was a 9-2 victory April 7 over Phoenix Barry Goldwater, a 5A Desert West Region foe. The victory earned the Lady Vipers a sweep and kept them undefeated in the region, tied with Desert Edge for the top spot.
“Barry Goldwater played us better than they did the first time,” Verrado coach Tee Hampton said. “It's always interesting to see that second match against the same team, how it turns out, what the coaches do to adjust. They made some adjustments to keep the score closer. I expect the same from our other region opponents.”
Verrado won 12-0 April 4 in the first meeting against Barry Goldwater. This time, the Lady Vipers used a couple of long balls in their offensive attack. Sami Miller launched a solo shot in the second inning to make it 3-0, and with a 5-0 advantage in the fourth, Paige Knezevich hit a three-run shot to left, making it 8-0.
“I feel like we're really balanced, offensively, defensively,” Hampton said. “During the beginning of the season, we had to figure out what worked for us with the addition of new players, we really had to figure out who fits where. We've got it now and our defense is really good, and when our bats get going, it's contagious.”
Barry Goldwater scored twice in the sixth to make it 8-2, but the Lady Vipers got one back in the bottom of the frame, and that was more than enough for pitcher Reina Kelley. Kelley is Verrado's ace, and has a really good presence in the circle, Hampton said.
“You wouldn't know if we're winning or losing, or if she's pitching bad or pitching great, she has the same demeanor all the time,” Hampton said. “She stays composed, and the older she gets, the better she gets. She's had games where she's thrown 130 pitches and is solid from start to finish.”
The win improved Verrado's record to 17-4-1 overall, and 8-2 in 5A power-points. The Lady Vipers are ranked seventh.
“The girls are getting along really well, buying into what we're doing; they're having fun,” Hampton said.
Verrado had 62 players come to tryouts, and Hampton kept 18 on the initial varsity roster. It's the most he's ever had at Verrado, but he likes the depth. The Lady Vipers also have four different pitchers that Hampton can use.
Verrado's lone rough patch this season was March 27-28 when it lost a pair of close games. The first defeat was to Surprise Shadow Ridge, 4-3, and the next day the Lady Vipers dropped a 12-8 contest to Scottsdale Chaparral. Those teams are ranked third and fifth, respectively, in the rankings.
“That was a rough week,” Hampton said. “Playing Shadow, that team is coached well and the talent they have, playing them on Monday really exhausted us.”
Verrado also got bit by an umpire's judgement call. With a runner on third in the top of the eighth, the Lady Vipers' Kelley was called for an illegal pitch because the umpired deemed she put her hand in her glove, and then her hands came apart while she was on the rubber. The call brought home the go-ahead, and eventual game-winning run. It was an odd way to lose, Hampton said.
“Everybody I've talked to has said they've never seen that,” he said. “The girls gave it everything they got, and turned around and played Chaparral the next game. The score really didn't dictate how that game went, it was back and forth the whole game. It felt like it was more of a one-, two-run game.”
Since those two defeats, Verrado is undefeated in its last five games. In addition to beating Barry Goldwater twice, the Lady Vipers shutout Maricopa 11-0 and beat Lake Havasu 13-3 in each game of a doubleheader.
Verrado played at Glendale Deer Valley Tuesday, but the result was unavailable at press time. The Lady Vipers have six games remaining, including five in the region. The first of those is at 3:45 p.m. today against Peoria Liberty. Verrado plays its home-and-home series against Desert Edge April 21 and 24. The first game is at Desert Edge, with the second game at Verrado. Both are 6 p.m. starts.
“It's hard not to look ahead, but my philosophy, I like to work backwards,” Hampton said. “We know April 24 is the last day of the season for most teams, so we kind of work backward from there looking at our pitching staff, who we're going to throw what games. It's a strategy I've adopted over the years.”
Hampton said he has high expectations for his team, but he also just wants them to buy into what the coaching staff is teaching.
“I don't have high expectations as far as them performing more than what they're capable of, I just need everybody to do what they're supposed to do,” Hampton said. “Even the girls that are subs for the day, or courtesy runners for the day, or in the clean up spot, do your job for the day and who knows what can happen. I always tell them, it's not really about the wins and losses, it's about competing. If you compete, and I see you're competing to the best of your ability, I'm happy with that all day long.”
Casey Pritchard can be reached at email@example.com
or on Twitter @CaseyonSports.
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