The game was long over Friday afternoon and Chris Crowl was still milling around the Desert Vista softball field.

Can’t blame the guy if he wanted to savor the 9-1 win over Salpointe Catholic in what was probably the most important victory in his six years as head coach of the Thunder.

“This was huge for us and in vital in what we hope to do this season,” Crowl said. “It ended a bad (two-game streak) stretch and hopefully this heads us in the right direction.”

The win improved the Thunder to 17-10 overall and 11-5 in power point games. All of this from a team that was 30 games under .500 over the last five years.

“We played one of our best games of the year,” Crowl said. “We scored in just about every inning, only had one tough inning on defense and showed some toughness by getting a win we really needed.”

The Thunder close the season with two away games – at Mesa and Maricopa – so closing out Senior Day for captain Emily Panther and Sierra Ullrich was a great way to refocus Desert Vista toward the Division I postseason.

“When we have had big games before we seemed to always find a way to break down mentally and physically,” he said. “We had a chance to practice a couple of days and we told them all we wanted was consistent play for an entire game and that is what we had in this one.”

Panther had three hits, including a double, and three RBIs, while Naomi Ricciotti, who had two RBIs, and Madison Bailey had two hits each.

Danielle Block threw a three hitter, allowing an unearned run with eight strikeouts.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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