Dustie Durham allowed only one hit and struck out seven, but her base running was just as important in Goodyear Estrella Foothills’ 1-0 win over Benson in a Division III softball quarterfinal Saturday.
The sophomore ran from first to third base on a sacrifice bunt from teammate Allison Montano in the second inning and scored on Carley Parfitt’s ground out. It was the only run of the game, and it sent Estrella Foothills into the semifinals and another date with Tucson Empire.
“We try to catch the defense off guard,” Estrella Foothills coach Rick Brungardt said, adding that his base runners have the green light to go for the extra base anytime contact is made. “Carley did what I wanted her to do.
“We’ve always played Benson really tough. We knew what to expect, and we were fortunate enough to get that run early.”
Top-seeded Empire and fifth-seeded Estrella Foothills have met in the state playoffs the previous two years.
Empire staged a four-run comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning Saturday to stun No. 8 Show Low 4-3 and advance to Friday’s game at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix for a spot in the Division III championship game.
Durham led off the inning with a single, one of three hits for Estrella Foothills off Benson pitcher Kendra Behr.
Behr pitched a complete game and got help from her defense, as center fielder Kourtney Brogan saved an extra-base hit in the top of the seventh with a running catch on a drive hit by Devynn Osmanski.
Durham improved her record to 31-2 on the season.
“Her pitching since the start of the season has come along so good,” Brungardt said. “She hit her spots really well.”
Brungardt said he’s impressed with Empire’s fielding and hitting.
“Dustie can prevent that a little bit, I hope,” he said.