After going 0-4 at the Tournament of Champions, the Mingus Union High School girl's softball team returned to the win column after a thrashing of the Scottsdale Christian Academy Eagles, 13-1, improving its overall record to 3-5.
"The level of competition was obviously not the same [as the Tournament of Champions]," said head coach John Brown. "We went to Laughlin for a purpose, and that was to see the best, at least in the Western part of the country and get an idea of what we're going to be up against later in the season. Scottsdale Christian, it's a small school and the program is not that strong of course, so we didn't have as much competition there as we did in Laughlin."
While slow-starts are a problem the team is working on, the Marauders wasted little time getting on the board. Mingus went three-and-out to open the game, but followed that up in the second inning when senior pitcher Angelina Saucedo doubled to right field, sending senior infielder Torey Gillies and junior center-fielder Kaitlynn Lewis home and giving Mingus Union a 2-0 lead.
Mingus' bats were quiet until the fourth inning until Saucedo hit a single and Lewis made it home one again. Up 3-0, the Marauders continued to lay it on the Eagles, driving in nine more runs before Scottsdale Christian was finally able to catch a fly ball to end the inning. Mingus Union scored two more runs in the final inning off of a Gillies double to right field. Scottsdale Christian was able to get on the board, albeit off of an error late in the bottom of the fifth.
"We had a little difficulty figuring out what the strike zone was going to be, as far as where he [the umpire] was calling strikes and what he was calling strikes, and once they figured that out, they started hitting the girl pretty well," Brown said. "They did stay upbeat and up-tempo the entire game, which is what we're asking of them, even when having a blow-out game, or a not-competitive game, to at least stay upbeat and still do your job well and not lay down."
The bats were not the only part of the Marauders' game that was hot. Saucedo pitched the entire game, only allowing one hit and striking out 10 batters. The senior ace threw 68 pitches through the five innings and with 41 being strikes, a 60.3 strikeout percentage.
"Pitching did extremely well. Angelina Saucedo, she wound it up, I believe she had nine or ten strikeouts in five innings ... ten, ten strikeouts in five innings," Brown said. "She only gave up one hit and the run that they got was on an error ... we got an error, and it wound up causing a run to go across the plate, but other than that, she didn't give up an earned run."
While Mingus may have crushed their way to a victory, the game was not like most games they have played, or will play.
"We were playing on a, literally, playing on football turf field, it was kind of unique," Brown said. "There was no infield at all; it was just a corner of the football field. To say that it was a little challenging on ground balls and that stuff is an understatement."
Coach Brown and his assistant coaches have been working with their players on things that they saw during the previous tournament and were happy that the girls were applying what they learned on the field, including defensive plays and communicating better.
"We're working on some specific defense plays, trying to deal with bunting and left-handed slappers, something that I noticed in the tournament that we weren't as prepared [for] as I would like us to be. So, we've been working through some of those bugs. We've been working on relays on our defense, communication on whose supposed to be where and what and that's going to make a big impact on our season, so that was really good to see that."
Even though it is spring break for Mingus Union, Coach Brown is not giving his girls extra time off. Instead, he is holding a softball camp and having the girls help out.
"We're practicing all the way through spring break," Coach Brown said. "We're also running a youth camp here [at Mingus Union], which is kind of a diversion for them [the team]. It helps them, while they're still doing softball, to keep their minds off of specific things. But then they come back, and we're doing a lot of hitting over spring break, focusing on hitting in a lot of different situations."
The Marauders return to action March 21 when they travel to face the Scorpions from Red Rock High School at 3:45 p.m.