Down by three, with two outs and two runners in scoring position, there’s no one Discovery Canyon coach Tanya Ramsay wants at the plate more than senior Sami Edwards.
But Vista Ridge coach Brent Mrofcza had his own senior weapons in the outfield hungry for a PPAC Championship.
More than 100 Vista Ridge fans collectively held their breath as Edwards smacked the ball deep to center field. They let out a cheer when senior Whitney Valencia completed the catch, clinching the Wolves' first PPAC Championship since 2014 in a 13-10 win over Discovery Canyon.
“The first goal our girls laid out this year was the PPAC championship,” Mrofcza said. “I did expect it. We told our girls we want to be playing well at the end, and every day we have to build and get better. We didn’t start off that well, but we don’t take a day off, we come to practice and work. That’s just our kids, and I’m excited for them.”
The teams were evenly matched on paper, but Vista Ridge had an edge Wednesday — Kaitlyn Lord.
She hit 4 for 4 with seven RBIs to help the Wolves get past Discovery Canyon, which has won at least a share of the league championship the past two seasons.
“I was just working hard on that batting average,” Lord said. “We knew we couldn't go easy on them. We had to go as hard as we could today because this was our hardest game of the year and we couldn’t let them up.”
She saw Discovery Canyon’s Abby Boothe’s outside pitch well, first snaking a perfectly placed two-run double in the gap in left to give Vista Ridge a two-run lead in the first.
Later she hit a two-run double, and an inside-the-park home run thanks to a line drive down the third base line for a lead in the fifth, which the Wolves would not relinquish.
“Every time she was up, she hit the ball hard. That’s all I know,” Mrofcza said. “It’s a great performance and we expect her do to that.”
Leading up to the final out, Discovery Canyon’s Edwards had hit 2 for 3, including a two-RBI triple during her last at bat, which not only put pressure on Vista Ridge pitcher Kendra Miller, but also Mrofcza, who had to decide on a game plan with a championship in sight.
“We were trying to decide if we were going to walk (Edwards) because she’s such a great player and their best hitter,” Mrofcza said. “There was a lot of thought about just putting her on base and attacking the next hitter, but Kendra threw the pitch she needed to.”
“Sami is having a year,” Ramsay said. “She is one of the top players in the state, and she’s who you want out there. A big kid in a big situation. It didn’t swing in our favor this year, but Sami is a big reason why we are here and we are extremely proud of her and proud of our squad.”
The back-and-forth battle was exactly what one would expect from the last remaining undefeated PPAC squads, both of which put up lengthy winning streaks. The Thunder had eight wins heading into Wednesday’s title game, while Discovery Canyon had a 10-game streak.
After taking a quick 4-0 lead, Vista Ridge lost the lead twice before the fifth inning.
“We preach every pitch, every inning, and today we made some mistakes and we fought back and I’m extremely proud of them for being able to battle back,” Mrofcza said. “With coach Ramsay, she always has her team coached well and they always play well. I knew this was going to be a battle until the seventh inning, that’s what we told the kids all week.”
Vista Ridge’s Serenity Davis, Katey Kelly and Chloe Ewing also had RBIs for the Wolves. Edwards and Genesis Andino had two RBIs each for the Thunder.