Phoenix, AZ - The Mesa Thunderbirds softball team enter today one game back of South Mountain for the second spot in the ACCAC DII playoff chase. They'll end the day at least tied for a share of the second spot in the conference as they earned two big victories over South Mountain Saturday afternoon, 6-3, 14-11.
Mesa played loose and played like a team on a mission. They played solid softball in all aspects of the game and though there were times of doubt, the T-Birds overcame a good Cougar ball club to get their second DII conference sweep of the week.
In game one, both teams went scoreless for the first four innings, due in part to excellent pitching by both teams. But the T-Birds broke the tie in the top of the fifth when Andrea Lugo doubled to lead off the inning. Valerie Macias singled, scoring Lugo from second, taking the first lead of the day, 1-0.
In the bottom half of the inning though, the Cougars were able to push two runs across to take the 2-1 advantage.
Mesa's Leighann Ballesteros answered right back for Mesa, connecting on an outside pitch that she hit high over the right center field fence. The T-Birds weren't finished in the top of sixth, as again Lugo and Macias singled for Mesa. Emerald Grijalva then worked an 0-2 count to a base on balls, loading the bases for Alexis Cirerol. Cirerol came through clutch, as she doubled in Lugo and Macias to take a 4-2 lead.
It was Lugo and Macias again in the seventh inning who each singled in runs for Mesa, and eventhough the Cougars were able to score one more in the bottom half of the seventh, the T-Birds hung on for the 6-3 win.
Macias was 4-4 in game one, with one RBI and one run scored. Emerald Grijalva pitched all seven innings, allowing six hits and three runs.
In game two, the Cougars struck first with two runs but Emerald Grijalva hit a towering two run homerun to left to tie the game at two in the second inning.
Mesa would get four runs in both the third and fourth innings, with big hits coming for Marissa Ibarra-Palomo, first a single in the third inning, scoring two runs. Then she connected on a long two run homerun to left center field, pushing Mesa's lead at the time to 9-6.
Up 12-9 in the top of the seventh, Lindsey Paboucek connected a two run homer to right center field to score their final two runs of the game and take a commanding 14-9 advantage.
Grijalva finished strong in the circle for Mesa and it was a dramatic diving catch in foul territory down the left field line by Raychele Hernandez that finished off the sweep for Mesa.
The T-Birds will be at home on Tuesday when they face DI opponent, Yavapai College, first pitch at 1 pm.