In the past four seasons, Mesa Red Mountain softball has made the state tournament its own invitational.
2013 is no different.
The three-time defending champions are now one win away from appearing in their fifth consecutive state championship game. Sixth-seeded Red Mountain advanced to the Division I tournament winners bracket semifinals after beating No. 10 Mesa Desert Ridge 11-0 in five innings Monday night at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix.
Red Mountain scored four in the fourth inning and seven in the fifth, ending the game via mercy rule after leadoff hitter Alyssa Fernandez blasted a grand slam to end the game.
Desert Ridge had beaten Red Mountain in both of their games this season. But this is the postseason. And this is where Red Mountain thrives.
“In games like this, we’re confident,” Red Mountain coach Richard Hamilton said. “It’s not cockiness, it’s confidence. When you have experience, you can do that. You can rely on that. That’s what we did the last few days.”
Red Mountain will play on Wednesday against No. Mesa Mountain View. Desert Ridge, which will play Tuesday vs. No. 8 Horizon in an elimination game, will need to win three in a row from here to reach the state-title game.
Desert Ridge, though, just hopes freshman left-hander Bailey Klitzke will be able to pitch at 100 percent on Tuesday. Klitzke’s right pinkie was hit with a pitch while she was up to bat in the second inning. She pitched fine in the first three innings, never allowing a hit. But the pain caught up to her in the fourth as Red Mountain scored three runs on five hits. Klitzke left the game with one out.
“It did affect her; she said she couldn’t move it and it was kind of numb still,” Desert Ridge coach Jennifer Broderick said. “But when she was pushing with it to go forward, it was hurting.”
Breana Macha, Jordan Beck and McKenzy Gutierrez each had a RBI single in the inning. Victoria Sotelo drove in the fourth run.
Red Mountain would end the game in the next inning. Taylor Beeson led off with a a one-run home run. Red Mountain would score two more runs before Fernandez stepped to the plate with two on, one out and hit an 0-1 pitch well past the right field fence.
“She does everything on time,” Hamilton said of Fernandez. “If you look at her swing, it’s a great, pretty swing. It’s powerful and it’s on time. When she does it like that, it’s awesome.”