(Tempe, AZ) The glass slipper broke as the clock struck midnight for the Darlings of 520 Sports Talk at ASU’s Farrington Stadium.
Benson going for an unprecedented third consecutive 2A AIA State Championship was upbeat and confident going into the Tuesday night contest, and why wouldn’t they? After disposing of Camp Verde in last year’s 2018 State Title game on this very field, and a narrow 6-5 win over the Cowboys in Payton at the Gracie Lee Haught Classic in a sub freezing 9 am game on March 15th they just had to take care of business one more time.
Both schools brought excited and raucous fans to Stadium on a warm May evening. The stage was set for either a Benson blow out as have so many of these 2019 playoff games have gone, or a small town barn-burner between two communities with an over abundance of pride.
The Bobcats who usually came out breathing fire were stymied by Cowboy pitcher Jacie Finley. On the other side 520 Sports Talk’s Player of the Year Katie Sherman seemed to have her “A Game” going for yet another big game.
In the middle innings, Benson finally got on the board off of errors by the Cowboy defense to lead 2-0. Normally this is a sufficient lead for Sherman to close out the game. Not tonight.
Camp Verde scratched out a couple of runs in the next two innings to tie the contest at 2-2. Still no one on ether side panicked.
The fifth, sixth and seventh inning would be something fans won’t forget soon.
Off continuing errors that plagued Camp Verde the entire game, Benson scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a commanding 6-2 lead and with six outs to go it seemed noting could get in the way of a three-peat for the Bobcats. After all, the Cowboys would have to load the bases just to get the tying run to the plate.
The top of the seventh inning started with two consecutive singles by Cowboy batters to raise an eyebrow but just slightly if you were a Bobcat fan.
Then the bottom fell out with a perfectly placed bunt here and a single there and Camp Verde had closed the gap 6-3. Sherman wasn’t hitting her spots and the strike zone seemingly had shrunk. Finley helped herself with a line drive in the gap in right center field and the flood gates had opened. Now with Benson making the fielding errors and before it was all said and done, eight runs had crossed the plate and the Bobcats found themselves down 10-6 with only three outs left in their magical season.
Junior Letty Lopez didn’t want to go out with a whimper so she jacked a Finley fastball over the left center field wall to cut the lead to 10-7. The next batters went down and what seemed unfathomable 15 minutes earlier had become the nightmare of the year and the three-peat went out like you blow out a match.
In sports, never say never and always play until the last out. This will serve as a valuable lesson to these young ladies down the 10 freeway from Tucson, and something they will never want to repeat.
Give a ton of credit to the Cowboy girls for believing in themselves and persevering to the very end. It’s their championship and it was earned every step of the way.