Mountain Ridge shortstop Alyssa DiCarlo has been a solid hitter all season. A phenomenal hitter. But her three games of postseason play are nearly perfect.
DiCarlo belted a three-run homer in the sixth inning Monday night to rally the No. 4 Lady Mountain Lions to 4-3 victory over No. 1 seed Gilbert in a battle of Division I state tournament unbeatens at Rose Mofford Softball Complex.
Mountain Ridge faces the only other unbeaten team in the tourney on Wednesday (May 14) at 6:30 p.m. at Rose Mofford. That's No. 7 Chaparral, which hammered No. 3 Sandra Day O'Connor, 13-5. Chaparral opened with an 8-0 lead after one inning to prevail going away. Chaparral eliminated Mountain Ridge(2-0) last year and handed it an 8-0 loss almost a month ago.
Gilbert meets No. 2 seed and defending champ Red Mountain Tuesday (May 13) at 6:30 at Rose Mofford in an elimination game. Tuesday's other elimination game matches SDO and Hamilton at 6:30 p.m. at Rose Mofford.
DiCarlo, a junior, took a 1-1 offering from Gilbert pitcher Lynsey Duncan and deposited it well over the left-field fence to take away a 3-1 Gilbert lead. DiCarlo in three playoff games against Boulder Creek, Hamilton and Gilbert is 7-for-8 with seven RBI. Mountain Ridge coach Michele Markham hasn't updated stats lately, but believed the homer was either DiCarlo's 18th or 19th of the season.
"With Giselle (Juarez) pitching great, I just wanted to help when I got up," DiCarlo, a three-year starter, said. "The pitch I got was inside. Up a little.... I can't' explain why I'm hitting so well. Just experience and my third year playing I guess."
Duncan kept Mountain Ridge (27-6-1) at bay for five innings. The Lady Tigers junior allowed three hits and an unearned run through five innings. DiCarlo's homer (she was 3-for-3 in the game) came with no outs in the sixth and followed Taylor Kaye (hit by pitch on a 1-2 count) and Corrin Green (single to center). Duncan got the next three outs to end the inning, but her counterpart -- Juarez -- retired the final eight hitters and didn't allow the Lady Tigers heavy hitters to bat one last time in the seventh.
Juarez, a sophomore left-hander, has pitched all three postseason games for Mountain Ridge. Juarez gave up threee runs, two earned and six hits. She walked one and fanned six. Mountain Ridge didn't have to face Gilbert's top power threat Dani Nelson in the seventh thanks to sliding catch by left fielder Haley Rath looper off the bat of Tammy Froehlich.
"Giselle was hitting her spots, and she's been pitching smart," Markham said. "She's not just throwing. She's being a pitcher." Juarez struck out Nelson twice with runners in scoring position. Nelson was 1-3 with a single for the game.
DiCarlo doubled to open the second inning and scored on Juarez's two-out single for a 1-0 lead. Gilbert retaliated with a two-run third, using a two-out, two-run double by Taylor McCord to go in front. Gilbert made it 3-1 in the fourth with Mackers Garretson scoring on a two-out throwing error off a bunt by Froehlich.
DiCarlo also singled in the fourth and was the only Mountain Ridge player with multiple hits. Alex Astorga had two hits for Gilbert.