SIGNAL PEAK — Central Arizona College pitcher Sarah Norton was named ACCAC Division I Pitcher of Week last Tuesday, then she showed exactly why she received the honor Saturday, as she tossed a complete game seven-inning gem against No. 14 Arizona Western.
The Vaqueras (17-10) split the weekend doubleheader with the Matadors (23-8) as they rolled to a 6-0 win in Game 1 and dropped the second 15-7.
“Today showed us that we can compete against the Top 15, and we can take it to them,” CAC coach Shelby Davis said. “We’re one error away from getting beat every day, so it’s just trusting the process and sticking to it. We’re just right there, but we can’t settle and be complacent with where we’re at right now.”
The Matadors struck out 13 times against Norton, who allowed two hits and walked one.
“The best thing about her is she knows what her strengths are and somebody is going to have to beat her with her strengths,” Davis said. “She’s confident out there, and if someone comes up and gets a big hit off her, then they did a good job.”
Arizona Western led off the game with a single by Christina Robles and then had to wait until the fourth inning for its next hit, a double by Angela Oros.
CAC strung together a two-out rally in the third inning, as Cheyenne Hudson doubled to center field. Nicol Ley reached base on an error by Arizona Western shortstop Lynette Niebla.
Hudson was unable to advance on the play, as Niebla fielded what looked like a routine grounder but bobbled the ball, which slipped away from her.
Hudson still scored after Sonia Solis singled to left field to give the Vaqueras a 1-0 lead.
CAC’s big inning came in the fifth, as Serinah Sanchez and Kirsta Wright both singled to the left-hand side. Hudson loaded the bases with no outs, after drawing a walk.
Ley beat out the throw on a ground ball to Niebla, scoring Sanchez from third and kept the bases loaded.
Solis and Bella Garcia both had a sacrifice fly, as Wright and Hudson tagged up and scored on fly balls to right field.
Evelyn Roman doubled to center field, as Ley advanced to third and then scored on a double by Danielle Farinas.
Solis and Farinas both went 1-for-3 in Game 1 with two RBIs.
CAC was with out one of its hottest bats in third baseman Emily Churchill, who will be out the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
“We’re trying to reconfigure where people fit and stuff,” Davis said. “Just reconfiguring where people have played since January and now, we’re scrambling and shifting around. We’ll get there, we’ve decided that April is just going to be our month of trying to put in the hard work.”
In the circle for the Matadors was Anahi Grijalva who scattered eight hits, walked two and struck out six.
Game 2 was a complete turnaround, as both teams committed four errors each and combined for 25 hits.
“One big mistake can be the change in a game,” Davis said. “Just making routine plays when our pitchers are out there getting out. We didn’t finish it. We were in the game, and we have to treat every game as if we’re winning 1-0.”
Arizona Western jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after the first inning before exploding in the fourth inning.
The Vaqueras were one out away from getting out the inning unscathed after Jessica Mercado walked Sherlyn Molina to lead off the fourth.
Following the two outs, Mercado hit Robles and then Jocelyn Hernandez reached base on an error by Sanchez at second base, which brought the onslaught of runs as the Matadors led 7-0.
CAC avoided the run-rule, responding in the bottom frame with three runs of its own.
Ana Rodriguez and Sabrina Garcia singled with one out. Logan Kelly came in for Sanchez in the batting order and took over at shortstop as Hudson moved over to second.
Logan reached on a fielder’s choice, as Rodriguez was out at third base.
The Matadors then saw their own struggles defensively, as Wright reached on an error by Hernandez at second base and loaded the bases for the Vaqueras.
CAC scored three runs after the error, as Hudson walked and Ley singled to center field. The center fielder mishandled the ball, allowing Kelly and Wright to score.
“We usually rollover,” Davis said. “So that was a positive, we really committed the last 10 days to working hard and not giving up and committing to the process. I think overall today was an improvement. Obviously, we didn’t get the outcome we wanted in Game 2, but overall a good translation of what we did work-wise over the last 10 days.”
Arizona Western scored in every inning the rest of the game. The Vaqueras scored three runs in the fifth and trailed 10-6 and scored one more run in the seventh.
In the circle, Mercado and Rodriguez allowed 18 hits. Mercado tossed 4 1/3 innings with five strikeouts, four walks and three hit batters.
Rodriguez struck out three, walked three and allowed a three-run homer to Nicole Moran in the seventh.