Desert Vista’s run in the state tournament came to an end Tuesday night as the Thunder fell 8-6 to top-seeded Gilbert.
“I think we kind of lost the game for ourselves,” coach K’Lee Arredondo said. “We did come back at the end and we gave it all we got. I truly do believe we were the better team and we just came up short today.”
The Thunder, who earned the 17th seed despite playing nearly all underclassmen, took an early lead in the top of the second inning off a solo shot from freshman catcher Kaylee Dietrich.
“The first time we played them I couldn’t hit at all,” Dietrich said. “When I came up for the first time I thought ‘Hey it’s a new game, I’m just going to do what I can,’ so she gave me the pitch I wanted and I drove it.”
The 1-0 lead had the Thunder (12-14) dugout buzzing but the good feelings wouldn’t last long as the wheels came off for Desert Vista in the bottom of the third and fourth innings.
In the third, with the bases loaded, Desert Vista would allow back-to-back RBI singles. Then, on a fly out to left field, Gilbert outfielder Emma Ocker would tag up and score from third giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
Things didn’t get better in the bottom of the fourth as Desert Vista would give up four more runs in the inning putting the Thunder in a 7-1 hole against the Tigers (25-6).
“Sometimes they just get down on themselves and stay down rather than stay up the entire game,” Arredondo said of her team’s mentality. “It’s a very young team and it’s just getting them to learn mentally what they need to do to stay in the game.”
Despite the deficit, with their season on the line, the Thunder would make a late push. Desert Vista would add two runs in the top of the fifth and three runs in the top of the seventh but would come up just short 8-6.
Desert Vista is a young squad with seven freshmen and three sophomores and only graduates four seniors. Although the loss hurts, the future looks bright for the Thunder.
“I definitely think we are one heck of a team,” Arredondo said. “I think we lost some of the games - we beat ourselves – and I do think we are a very outstanding team and we have a lot of potential for the future.”
Dietrich feels the team is capable of something special in the future.
“For all of our freshmen I feel that we can do just great and we can win a state (title),” she said.
Smith is a senior journalism student at Arizona State.