It hasn’t been the type of season the Mountain Pointe High softball team had hoped for.
The Pride was 11-9 heading into Tuesday’s match up with Basha after splitting a two-game series with rival Desert Vista.
The Pride’s 5-1 win over the Thunder on April 4 placed them at the top of the 6A Central Region standings. But a 5-0 loss on Friday put them back in second, behind the Thunder.
“It’s always good to get a win, especially when you play a team like Desert Vista,” Mountain Pointe coach Jim Bradford said after Thursday’s win. “It’s a good measuring stick to see where we are at.”
Bradford’s coaching philosophy has remained simple this season.
He encourages his players to play within themselves and follow the basic fundamentals. He can often be heard reciting this to Pride batters from the coach’s box near third base or from the dugout.
“I think any coach will say that if you follow the fundamentals you can be a very successful team,” Bradford said. “It all goes back to the very beginning.”
Following basic fundamentals has helped the Pride compete this season with one of the toughest schedules in the state.
Mountain Pointe’s first 12 games included match ups with five teams ranked in the top-10 in 6A, including No. 1 Pinnacle, No. 2 Perry and No. 5 Sandra Day O’Connor.
The Pride also faced Ironwood Ridge – who is ranked third in 5A – as well as the second-ranked team in 4A, Cactus.
Bradford believes overloading the top-half of the schedule with title contenders will not only help Mountain Pointe in the rankings, but will also give them a sense of what it’s like in the state tournament.
But the battle-tested Pride still approach every game with the same mindset.
“We just have to control what we can control,” senior captain and infielder Araceli Pesqueira said. “We try not to think about the other team and only worry about ourselves.”
Pesqueira has become one of the Pride’s leaders since she was brought up to the varsity roster her sophomore year.
As one of Mountain Pointe’s leadoff hitters this season, the Grand Canyon University signee has a team-high .478 batting average with 17 RBIs and 3 home runs. She also has 5 stolen bases.
“I just try to stay calm and put the ball in play for my team,” Pesqueira said. “My mindset is to just control what I can control.”
Pesqueira’s quiet personality off the field gives way to a dominant player on it, as she presents a unique ability to create a spark on both offense and defense.
This was made clear last Thursday against Desert Vista when Pesqueira hit a lead-off home run in the first inning.
“I don’t always look for a big hit,” Pesqueira said. “I just try to get on base for my team to start the inning. But the home run was a plus.”
Pesqueira hopes to be able to continue her dominance at the plate as the Pride head into the final four games of the regular season. Mountain Pointe currently sits at No. 11 in the 6A rankings, and would be a part of the conference play-in tournament as of now.
No matter where Mountain Pointe ends up at the end of the regular season, Bradford is confident in his team’s resiliency to compete with anyone in the state.
“What’s great about this group of players is they hold each other accountable,” Bradford said. “Every play and every pitch, it’s important that we are able to keep growing because of that.
“It means everything to us moving forward as long as we stay motivated and play disciplined softball.”