It's early in the season, but not too early to tell that Skyline and Mesquite are on their way to considerably better softball seasons.
Skyline capitalized in the first two innings on walks to build a lead Friday afternoon and hung on in the final inning to edge Mesquite, 6-5, in a matchup of Division I (Skyline) and Division II (Mesquite) teams at Mesquite.
Last season Skyline and Mesquite combined for nine wins (five and four). After Friday's contest Skyline is 6-2 and already has one more win than all of last year. Mesquite slipped to 2-3, but the youth of both teams shows lots of promise for the future — perhaps the immediate future.
Skyline jumped to a 4-1 lead after two innings thanks to four baserunners via walk and one via hit by pitch. The Lady Coyotes four runs came with only a squib infield hit in the first that managed to drive in one of the four runs against Mesquite starter Regan Herzog.
“We look for moments and need to come through when we get them,” Skyline's first-year coach Annie Lockwood said. “We got some walks, and made the most of them.”
Skyline hit one ball out of the infield the first four innings — a line out to left. It didn't hit a ball out of the infield to score a run until its final tally in the fifth inning.
“We reminded the girls after you can't defend walks and the little mistakes we made with those,” Mesquite coach Gloria Hernandez said. “We're very young. We have four freshmen and four sophomores and seven of them start just about every game. We're 2-3, but doing just fine. There's a learning curve for us.”
Skyline has started with six wins in eight tries with good pitching from senior Shea Wilson and Friday's starter and winner, sophomore Kaitlyn O'Day. O'Day allowed eight hits — six to Mesquite's 3-4 hitters Mikayla Szathmary and Brittany Holland. Holland doubled and scored in a two-run fourth that cut its deficit to 5-3. O'Day pitched out of jams in the fifth and sixth leaving runners at second and third in each innings.
O'Day survived the bottom of the seventh after surrendering a leadoff single to Szathmary followed by a two-run homer to left by Holland. Shortstop Jaycee Lindley took away a hit up the middle from the next hitter, Kylie Ridge. It was a good thing for Skyline since O'Day mishandled a comebacker for an error to the next hitter. O'Day reboounded to get the final two outs on a fly to center and pop up to first.
Lockwood, a standout in high school at Paradise Valley High and a recent graduate from ASU where she played softball four years for the Sun Devils with a national title won while she played in 2011, has restarted Skyline's program with a headstrong attitude.
“I've set high expectations,” Lockwood said. “I think that will make us better. The girls chemistry is the best I've seen in any team. They hang out together, and there is not a lot of drama.”
Bianca Garcia, Lynzee Bollinger, Alisa Couch and Brennah Vaughan each had an RBI for Skyline. Holland had the only two RBI for Mesquite and reached base in all four at-bats.