Even as the top seed in the Division I softball tournament, Glendale Mountain Ridge didn’t get any respect.
It wasn’t the popular pick to win the state championship. That notoriety was given to Mountain Ridge’s opponent Wednesday in the third round of the tournament, eighth-seeded Phoenix Horizon.
Mountain Ridge took a big step in proving people wrong with a 1-0 win over Horizon at Rose Mofford Softball Complex to advance in the winners bracket behind senior pitcher Sai Foley’s 13 strikeouts.
“I felt like the girls have been underestimated all season,” Mountain Ridge coach Michele Markham said. “Nobody has been at our games or talked much about us. So they came in with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder today and they fought hard. Sai, especially. She has pitched fantastic all year but no one has really heard of her. She came out here and got 13 strikeouts. That’s unreal. She was on fire.”
Mountain Ridge plays No. 5 Mesa Mountain View on Monday. Horizon drops to the losers bracket to play No. 20 Phoenix Desert Vista on Saturday.
On Wednesday, Foley allowed just one hit, walked none and no-hit one of the state’s better hitting teams for the first four innings.
“She was just hitting her spot,” Markham said. “She has a lot of movement on her pitches. And she was throwing hard tonight. Every pitch I called, she hit her spot. It was easy to set people up.”
Horizon sophomore pitcher Tamara Statman also pitched a good game, striking out six and allowing four hits.
But in the fourth inning, Alyssa DiCarlo singled to right, Corrin Green walked then Kaylin Ayotte singled to right to score DiCarlo from second for the game’s lone run.
Horizon threatened in the top of the seventh with one out when Kaila Jacobi got on base on an error then advanced to second on the ensuing throwing error. But Foley struck out the next batter, swinging and induced a fly out to center field for the final out.
Horizon coach Lindsay Collins said she knows her team has enough talent and fight in it to go through the losers bracket. Horizon needs to win four straight games to make it to the title game.
“I know we’re not done,” Collins said. “I know we’re not close to being done. I’m not worried at all. I’m just anxious to get to the next one to prove that we’re fine. We’re still in the game.”