4/26/2014 1:38:00 PM Marauders triumphant on senior night
From left to right: Amber Rippy, Taylor Bailey, Kaitlynn Lewis, Kaetana Skornik, Celina Morones, Megan Hester and Kayter Zillmer. VVN/Travis Guy
What Mingus softball has meant to the seniors
"I truly love it. It's really the only sport I love and I love playing with the girls and ... these girls are my friends. It's a real honor to play with them."
"I came from Sedona and they're just really nice. We had a lot of fun and we're all crazy together but we play when we need to and it was just a fun season."
"I've made many memories on this field and its changed my way of how I look at softball and how I play it."
"Words don't really describe how it feels to be a part of the Mingus softball team. I've known these girls for three years, Rip (Rippy) for half a year ... and the bond we've created is unbreakable. It's really cool to get to play with them and knowing that it's our last home game is really, its crazy, but it's been a fun ride."
"It's just been amazing. This is where I've met [most] of friends in high school. I've made so many friends on the team and when I think about high school, this is where so many memories come from. It's just been a lot of fun. It made my high school experience what it was."
"Its cool to see how far we've come since our freshmen year ... since we were little."
"I think it's awesome to win on our senior night because this is what's left. When we leave high school we're going to think about softball and we're going to think about our last senior night home game and it just feels good to win."
Head coach John Brown:
"It's amazing. I inherited some of these older girls but I've been with them for two years so I feel some ownership of what they're getting and what they're accomplishing. It's nice to watch the younger kids come in and these [older] kids accepting them, bringing them up with it so we can build a program."
During their junior year, seniors Kayter Zillmer and Kaetana Skornik were role players, mainly seeing time on the field when running the bases for their teammates.
Their roles, along with other seniors on the team, expanded in 2014. Despite going from riding pine to starting, Zillmer and Skornik dug into their bags of tricks to pull out their slick base running moves as they, along with senior Amber Rippy, scored the go-ahead runs in the Marauders 6-4 win over Coconino High School on senior night.
"It's amazing, the two kids that we had running the bases right there, ironically last year they were our base runners that did all the sneaky base running, and it paid off," said head coach John Brown. "They remembered that stuff and they took all of those bags. That was a single that turned into all those runs. It was cool. I knew she (Zillmer) could do it and she did it. I didn't even have to tell her, she just took care of it. She won the ball game for us, technically. We scored more after that but she won the game for us. Big deal."
Mingus was up 3-1 at the beginning of the fourth following a 2-run RBI from junior Lyssa Rabideau (1-for-3, double). Coconino knotted things up with two runs before the Marauders tallied their outs. Then during their fourth at bat Zillmer nailed her first hit of the game (1-for-3) to get on first. Skornik (1-for-2) stepped up next and followed suit. The two former courtesy runners stole their way to third when they were able to.
A pitch that got past the Panther's catcher opened the door for Zillmer to break the tie as she scampered to home plate. Skornik zipped her way home when Rippy (2-for-2, three runs), who was on first, forced Coconino's pitcher to throw to second. The ball again went past a Panther, which allowed Skornik to zip home and put her team up two runs.
Senior Taylor Bailey (1-for-3, RBI, double) connected on a double to switch places with Rippy and brought in the game-icing run.
"It's really huge," Bailey said. "[Depending] on how they do against Flag [will determine] whether or not we go to the playoffs, so I really hope they win so we can got to the playoffs."
After the go-ahead runs were scored in the fourth, the Marauders still had to get through two-and-a-half more innings before they could walk off the field winners.
Freshman Krista Earl and the defense did their part. The freshman ace struck out four batters and allowed three earned runs. Rippy and fellow senior Celina Morones both turned double plays during the game and the Marauders had a near-prefect .966 fielding percentage.
"It's going to give them a great taste in their mouth, leaving their home field with a really good win," Brown said. "It was a fun game we played and they won too, so it's just a great way to end it here."
And when the final out was knocked down the girls celebrated. Their fans and family celebrated and, as if they knew the outcome to the game before and, they had a cooler full of water balloons waiting behind the dugout. Brown was chased around the field, being pelted with water balloons and drenched. An impromptu water balloon fight began, the team forgetting about everything else and celebrating their win and the seniors they sent off with a victory.
"Its just awesome beating a team that, they were, seriously, neck and neck with us," Skornik said. "We were No. 24, they were No. 25 the whole season, so its awesome playing a team that wants it just as bead as we do, so they're playing at another level and we're playing at another level. It's bitter sweet because its senior night, but its also awesome."
The win moves the girls to No. 24 in Divsion-II, one spot out of earning a bid to the post season. With their final game of the regular season at Prescott on April 30, the girls will have a chance to sneak into the state tournament with a win and some help.