Angelo State ends Mesa softball team’s season
Missing a chance to score early cost the Colorado Mesa softball team Saturday in the championship game of the South Central Region 1 tournament, losing 4-0 to Angelo State.
It was the second straight year the Mavericks have lost to the No. 1 team in the nation in the regional finals.
“You look at the other region, Texas Woman’s comes out of that (at 37-20); we’ve had some unlucky draws the last two years, and facing the No. 1 team that is really playing well,” CMU coach Ben Garcia said. “You never know if we’re put somewhere else it could be different.”
It was the first time the Mavericks were shut out this season, which ended 48-8 and the players and coaches knowing they’re oh, so close.
“One other thing, it’s nice to play at home. They have some great fans, a good following, good fan base,” Garcia said of the Rambelles, who will host Texas Woman’s University next weekend in a best-of-three series to get to the World Series.
“It’s hot, 90 degrees on that turf, and they’re used to it. Home cooking is very important in that capacity, but I’m pleased we can go down and not get blown out in every game.
“It could have been a different story, but that three-run home run (in the Mavs’ first game Friday against Angelo State) took the wind out of our sails for a bit, but gosh, we’re that close.”
The Mavericks threatened right off the bat when Maggie Manwarren reached when Angelo first baseman Alexis Evans dropped a fly ball, and Manwarren hustled to second. Alex Dufour bunted her to third but AnnMarie Torres popped out and Brooke Hodgson grounded out.
In a scoreless game in the third, Baylee Boren singled to center but was stranded at second, and Angelo State scratched out a run in the bottom of the third, then got a leadoff home run from Courtney Barnhill in the fourth.
Two more runs scored for the Rambelles (55-5) in the fifth, and the Mavericks couldn’t string any hits together against left-hander Morgan Hill, Angelo’s No. 3 pitcher.
“It’s where the pitching nullified good hitting, and we’ve been struggling a little bit,” Garcia said. “Kenz (McKenzie Surface) pitched a great game, and so did Andy (Hancock), but we made a couple of mistakes.
“If we score that first run and put a little pressure on them like the first time ... but that lefty, if that’s their No. 3, gosh, they’re legit to go a ways in this tournament. I thought player-wise we matched up very well with them.”
The Mavs have three young pitchers — Surface and Kimbri Herring are sophomores, Hancock is a junior, with the latter two new to CMU’s program. All three had outstanding seasons, but there wasn’t much difference in the three Angelo State pitchers.
“If one got in trouble another came in and there was nothing missed,” Garcia said. “There was a change in the way the pitch was happening, the one, her ball dropped off the table, and then the lefty, I’m thinking ‘Oh, we’re facing their No. 3, we’ll be all right.’ She threw the ball well and hit spots and had great velocity. She’s a strong kid.”
The Mavericks gave up only six hits, but three errors hurt — three of the Rambelles’ runs were unearned. Mesa managed only two hits, Boren’s single and one by Kaila Jacobi.
With the nucleus back and more knowledge of what it takes at the national level, Garcia knows his recruiting priorities — even more pitching and a couple of more big hitters to add punch and create even more competition in practice.
“It wasn’t meant to be,” Garcia said of a Super Region berth. “I wish Angelo State all the best. I’d love for them to go all the way, because that shows we’re right where we need to be.”