APACHE JUNCTION – The seventh ranked Vista Grande softball team has only played five games so far this season and this is the first time in nearly three weeks where the Spartans have played more than one game in a week.
No one would believe that there’s been a lack of competition for the Spartans by the way they are swinging their bats.
“The girls are starting to find themselves and they’re starting to play some good ball,” Vista Grande head coach Rudy Valenzuela said. “I’m glad that we do have three games, and next week we have three games also. I think they’re starting to get into the rhythm. I think the girls are looking forward to playing a little bit more games. I would like to see a little more competition, but that’s okay, as long as the girls play hard, have fun and enjoy the game itself; let’s go for it.”
Vista Grande (5-0) traveled to Apache Junction (6-3) on Friday afternoon and, despite a slow start by both offenses, the Spartans grabbed the 9-0 win.
The first hit of the game came in the second inning with two outs as Apache Junction’s Anissa Rivera barely reached first base on a hard-hit grounder to a diving Amyah Boostedt at second base.
“I’ll tell you what, that’s a pretty good team over there,” Apache Junction head coach Ed Matlosz said. “That Alyssa Tinnin, legit. The real deal. You have her (in the circle) and you can’t make mistakes. We battled them early, and then we just made a couple mistakes there, and it opened the flood gates up, and our girls didn’t respond to the adversity.”
The Spartans had their bats going in fourth as Boostedt kicked off the heart of their lineup. The senior singled to right field and Selena Perez laid down a solid bunt, allowing Boostedt to advance to third.
Alyssa Tinnin scored both runners on a double and was lifted for a courtesy runner in Emilee Rodriguez, who scored on a single by Illeana Cosillos.
Vista Grande had runners on the corners with no outs after Jazzy Joaquin singled to right field. Bri Jorgenson grounded out to shortstop Addison Cooksey, but scored Cosillos from third to grab a 4-0 lead.
“The first four innings we were right in there,” Matlosz said. “I thought Tristen was pitching well and hitting spots. We know they can explode; we’ve seen the scores. I thought we battled nice, but when we had that bad inning, our girls got let down a little bit.”
In the circle Tinnin allowed one hit and struck out nine. The Spartans came prepared to shut down the Prospectors’ bunting game and smothered the area in front of home plate every time with perfect execution.
“We had read an article that the team likes to bunt, that they like to play the short game,” Valenzuela said. “So we practiced that this week. They tried it and I thought Jazzy did an excellent job at first base. Even the ones that were bunted to Alyssa, she did a good job getting off of there and making some good throws. I think the girls looked awesome.”
Beside the one hit by Rivera, two other Prospectors reached base on two errors in the late innings, as Perez threw outside the stretched glove of Adecelli Archuleta at first on one play, and then misplayed the ball, which ended up in the outfield.
For the Prospectors Tristen Greer took the loss as the senior struck out four, scattered 11 hits and hit three batters.
“When you’re putting up 22 runs you have to try to keep the focus of the team and you have to be honest with them,” Matlosz said. “…Now this is the heart of the schedule; you have a lot of good teams coming up and now you have to be able to respond. You have to get the bunts down, you have to hit the ball harder and you have to make the plays on defense. That’s where we kind of let Tristen down a little bit, we had a couple of missed plays that should have been caught … and then the next thing you know you’re down.”
The Spartans added four more runs in the fifth as Brooklyn Flores reached base on an error by Apache Junction’s Daisy Ruelas-Estrada.
Coming up for Vista Grande again, was the same part of the lineup that did a lot of damage in the previous inning.
Boostedt reached base after being hit by a pitch, and Perez singled to center field to load the bases with no outs.
Tinnin, who is the Spartans’ ace in the circle, has also been equally effective in the batter’s box. The junior racked up her second double of the game on a ball that was carried by the wind deep into center field. Tinnin was a few inches short of hitting a grand slam, but scored two runs.
Perez scored on a wild pitch, and Rodriguez came in again as a courtesy runner for Tinnin and scored on a single by Cosillos.
Vista Grande’s final run came on a double by Archuleta that scored Joaquin.
Tinnin was 2-for-3 with two doubles and four RBIs, and Cosillos had two RBIs on 2-for-4 hitting.
Boostedt, Perez, Tinnin and Cosillos all have a batting average and on base percentage over .500 for the Spartans.
The Spartans will get a few hours to rest before hosting St. Mary’s on Saturday morning.
Game two against the Prospectors is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Vista Grande.
“Our girls will adjust,” Matlosz said. “They’ll either fold or fight; we’ll see what happens. We have to learn how to hit that speed. We try the best to simulate it, but the girls still have to get it done. A lot of these girls have seen it in club ball, but like I said (Tinnin) was making good pitches and she was making it tough on our hitters.”