Wednesday’s Basha-Horizon softball matchup
We touched on Wednesday night’s big Div. I softball state tournament semifinal a bit here between Red Mountain and Mountain Ridge, but there’s quite the compelling matchup set to take place on a Rose Mofford field next door at the same time Wednesday night (6:30 p.m.) between No. 1 Basha and No. 6 Horizon.
These two schools met early on during the Desert Mountain tournament in March, a game won by Basha, 8-6. But that was awhile ago, and things (naturally) have changed.
For starters, Horizon freshman Tamara Statman has since emerged as a top pitcher in the East Valley. In this tournament alone, she held Xavier in check (and it wasn’t the first time the Gators had faced her this season), nearly beat Red Mountain and survived a wild Tuesday night against Peoria Centennial (actually, all the Huskies survived a wild night). Statman didn’t pitch as well as she had in recent outings, but basically was the MVP to saving Horizon’s season by hitting two home runs (she’s normally a leadoff hitter), including a grand slam.
The Huskies’ defense has been solid enough behind Statman, and they’ll get another huge test tonight against Basha’s lineup, which is deep (especially when Hailee Siroky is launching home runs and the bottom one-third of the order is getting on base as it did in beating Xavier). The Bears also don’t strike out a lot, which means balls in play, which means a quick-reacting defense for Horizon needs to make all the routine plays, because Basha will feast when given extra chances.
Basha ace Kailey Regester fell behind 2-0 early against Xavier, as the Gators were aggressive at the plate and often swinging at her first pitch (the two teams played each other about three weeks ago in the regular season). A couple odd bounces and an error didn’t help, but the middle of the Gators order put good swings on Regester early. But she appeared to get better as the game went on (and made a couple nice defensive plays on comebackers), and, unlike that Mountain Ridge loss on Saturday, the Bears were solid defensively.
Horizon’s lineup is good, especially its top 5-6 hitters, but, similar to Basha, the Huskies got a huge boost (and, it turns out, needed every boost it could get) from the bottom of the order against Centennial on Tuesday night.
Both pitchers are quite good, but so are the offenses. This figures to feature a lot of contact, defense, hits and some runs; something more in the range of 4-7 runs scored by each team as opposed to 1 or 2 runs. This game probably boils down to whether Statman’s pitching can keep the middle of Basha’s lineup from squaring up its swings, whichever team plays better defense, and possibly the last at-bat. It’ll be a dandy.