Katie Sherman earned her 100th career victory in the circle and Letty Lopez’s sixth-inning solo shot Saturday ensured Benson’s state softball three-peat quest remained intact.
Sherman fanned 13 and scattered four hits in the No. 1 Bobcats’ 10-0 shutout win over No. 9 Arizona Lutheran at Rose Mofford Sports Complex. She joins former Benson great Megan Ellsworth as 100-game winners.
The dominant win sets up a semifinal matchup Friday with No. 4 Morenci, a familiar 2A East Region foe, on Field 4 at 6:30 p.m., with No. 2 Trivium Prep and No. 3 Camp Verde to meet in the other semifinal. The two winners will tangle for all the marbles Tuesday, [May 14], at 5:30 p.m., at Farrington Stadium at Arizona State University in Tempe.
In the Saturday quarterfinal, Lopez sent the 2-1 offering high over the left-center field fence for the walkoff, sending her teammates and Bobcat Nation into a frenzy.
Mikayla Wales doubled in a 3-for-3 day at the plate while Darwin doubled twice. Katie Sherman and Taylor Fenn added triples while collecting a pair of the Bobcats’ 12 hits with Jamie Barney, Kayla Sherman and Lopez recording hits.
Dominant win notwithstanding, the Bobcats’ high-powered offense never did get untracked Saturday, although a seven-run third inning offered enough breathing room with Benson adding solo runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
Coach Brittney Batten and crew are well aware that in state softball the how is not nearly as crucial as the positive end result.
“First game we came out on fire… this game we were a little flat but sometimes you’ve got to get it done with your C Game and we did today,” said Batten. “... Excited to see what happens this week at practice.”
The Bobcats will prepare Morenci, in what will be their third meeting this year with Benson taking both by 4-1 and 5-1 scores, and which now are rendered moot by the coaching staff who is not about to let the Bobcats get distracted by talks of three-peat.
“One thing that we focus on at practice is that we’re always telling them, ‘hey, the next game is our only focus and it’s our most important game, nothing is promised,’” said Batten. “We talk about upsets that happen all the time; we talk about every team in the state tournament can have its day, so focusing on one batter at a time, one pitch at a time… no heroes, we talk about being a team and trusting the bat behind you and trusting your teammates to get it done for you.”
Sherman and Darwin pitched a combined no hitter and Darwin homered and doubled twice to help propel No. 1 Benson to the lopsided 24-0 win over 16th-seeded Phoenix Christian.
Benson, behind an effective short game that helped set the table for the thumpers, batted around the order in a 12-run first-inning that quickly made the game a foregone conclusion as the Bobcats pounded out 22 hits.
Darwin, from the leadoff spot, drove home six runs in a 4-for-5 showing at the plate. Lopez and Kayla Sherman went 3 for 4 with three RBIs while Barney tripled in a 3-for-4-effort with two RBIs. Aly Fenn and Wales each had a pair of hits and Katie Sherman was in on the hit parade as well.
The Bobcats’ pitching arsenal was in top form. Sherman fanned eight in three innings of work and Darwin punched out five in two innings in the mercy-rule shortened game called after five innings.
The Bobcats added a six-run second and five-run third and scored once more in the fourth.