Win or lose now, Desert Ridge season worthy of praise
Another battle of Brown Road will take center stage on Wednesday night at Rose Mofford, as rivals Mountain View and Red Mountain slug it out in the Division I softball state semifinals.
“Elimination” games, however, continued Tuesday night and into Wednesday, with a third Mesa city school (Gilbert district) still in the mix in Desert Ridge.
Come Wednesday, the Jaguars’ season could be over if they lose to a good Horizon team. Or it could be continuing in to another elimination game.
Either way, Jen Broderick’s team is worth applauding.
Tea leaves weren’t coming up “Desert Ridge” to begin the 2013 season. But the Jaguars turned a lot of heads by beating Red Mountain twice (nobody had done that to the three-time defending champions since 2007), Gilbert, Basha, Chaparral and Perry.
The Jaguars have a freshman pitcher in Bailey Klitzke who already possesses good control and an excellent changeup. When she was hit in the hand by a Bre Macha fastball while batting in a loss to Red Mountain on Monday night, it clearly affected her pitching prowess as the Lions won 11-0.
Despite the blowout loss, the Jaguars have an ace (and future ace) in Klitzke, a good defensive team and a balanced lineup. It’s why they earned the No. 10 seed in the state tournament (aided by a couple “signature” wins and a stacked strength of schedule rating in the power rankings). But that wasn’t enough, and wins against Highland, Marana and Vail Cienega sent the program into the second week of state tournament play, further than they’ve ever gone before.
Broderick put on a smile after the 11-0 thrashing at the hands of Red Mountain, knowing her team’s rough night had to be quickly forgotten to have any chance of keeping this run rolling again on Tuesday night.
“The kids haven’t been around a lot of winning,” she said. “You have to given them the confidence to believe in themselves; remind them that they are good because they’ve shown it.”
To that end, the Jaguars are a work-in-progress. So unless they pull a remarkable run through this gauntlet of an elimination bracket — and Horizon, Chaparral and Mountain Ridge is a gauntlet — let’s not yet appoint them as state title contenders just yet for 2014.
But the kids are being worked hard with what Broderick called a “back- to-basics” approach. “If we can do the basics, we can do anything.”
The ascension is slowly underway, and to become a third Mesa city school to be reckoned with in softball (along with Red Mountain and Mountain View) is something normally reserved for football in Chandler and baseball in Scottsdale.
In other words, a real rarity.