Sunrise Mountain softball makes it 4 titles in 7 years

Sunrise Mountain softball makes it 4 titles in 7 years

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Sunrise Mountain softball makes it 4 titles in 7 years

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Top-seeded Peoria Sunrise Mountain has dominated this season in Division II.

The team went 31-1 in the regular season and cruised through the playoffs with ease, allowing only one run in four postseason games to arrive at Monday’s title matchup with No. 4 Ironwood Ridge at Arizona State’s Farrington Stadium.

The domination didn’t stop there.

Pitcher Taylor Nowlin struck out 12 batters in seven innings and allowed only two hits in Sunrise Mountain’s 7-0 shutout against Ironwood Ridge Wednesday to clinch its fourth state title in seven years.

“We came out, and we did what we were supposed to,” Nowlin said.

Nowlin walked Ironwood Ridge’s first batter of the game, and a single by Merilee Miller put runners at first and second with no outs. But she settled in quickly after that, striking out the next three batters of the inning and not allowing another hit until sixth.

“As long as she’s having fun, we’re in good shape and you can see she has a good time,” Sunrise Mountain coach Jody Pruitt said. “But it takes two to tango, and we have Morgan Leonard behind the plate. She called a great game. We’ve got to give half the credit to her.”

Leonard was also a leader on offense Wednesday. She went 3 for 4 at the plate with three RBIs. She hit a one-run double in the first inning to give Sunrise Mountain a 1-0 lead and came up big in the fourth as well with a two-run triple to stretch the lead to 5-0.

“Taylor works so hard day in and day out, and it’s nice to get runs on the board for her,” Leonard said.

Sunrise Mountain lost to Oro Valley Canyon del Oro in extra innings last year. Nowlin, the starter on the mound in the game, said the loss haunted her all season.

“I kept beating myself up as the pitcher,” she said.

Getting back to the title game this year, Pruitt said, is something Sunrise Mountain talked about all year. And strong team chemistry helped the No. 1 seed get there.

“These girls have worked so hard,” she said. ”It’s not about individuals; it’s about a team and these girls have done such a nice job worrying about each other. … that’s why they’ve been successful.”

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