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To win a 40-run shootout, it would be hard to imagine that defense was what did it for the victorious team. In Sedona Red Rock High School’s 26-14 win over visiting Anthem Preparatory Academy, strong defense in two innings made the difference.

The Scorpions [1-2] sealed their first win of the season on Tuesday, March 7, in six innings thanks to defensive stands in the fifth and sixth.

“An offensive battle I guess you could say,” Red Rock head coach Ethan Hartz said. “That’s what it really came down to, we played a little better defense than they did.”

The top of the fifth inning proved pivotal. The Scorpions held the Eagles without a run and scored three more. They also turned a double play to prevent runs from scoring in the sixth that Hartz said deflated the Eagles.

An eight-run sixth gave the team a 10-run lead and the mercy-rule win.

“That’s what it came down to, we played a little better defense than they did,” Hartz said.

The final play of the game saw freshman left fielder Carolina Lopez-Villegas hit a three-run base-clearing triple; the Scorpions totaled seven extra-base hits.

Hartz has had to play a young lineup with five freshmen making up the starting nine; regular starting pitcher junior Natalie Monge and sophomore catcher Desiray Davis have not been available to play due to injury.

Against the Eagles, freshman Natalie Montgomery entered the pitchers circle and senior Courtney Chalmers went behind the plate.

“She [Montgomery] hasn’t thrown a lot, so she got thrown into the fire here ... so she’s having to go the whole game not used to doing that,” Hartz said. “So you’ve got to hand it to her. I thought she did a good job.”

The game was a back-and-forth battle throughout. The Eagles went up 3-0 after the top of the first inning, but the Scorpions’ bats responded with five runs of their own.

Anthem Prep plated four more in the second, then Red Rock exploded for 10. With the bases loaded, junior first baseman Ally Alver knocked a line drive far enough away from the Eagle outfielders to score an inside-the-park grand slam.

“It was really exciting, cause we needed to score some runs,” Alver said. “I felt it and I just wanted at it and I got lucky.”

Hartz is confident in his team’s offense, but with the two missing pieces on defense combined with overall inexperience, it is still growing.

He is still mixing and matching his lineup, giving everyone on his roster a chance to impress while figuring out who works best, and where.

“You know we still have a lot of work to do defensively but I was really happy with the kind of shift in attitude I’m seeing,” Hartz said. “The desire to get better, with this game especially, I see people trying to make the correct play.”

Anthem Prep came as close as 15-13 when it scored six more across the third and fourth while holding Red Rock scoreless.

All told, freshman center fielder Grace Hafner was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle, leading the team with four hits. Alver had five RBI and five runs scored while also drawing three walks.

Montgomery gave up seven earned runs on 10 hits with 11 walks and four strikeouts for the complete-game win.


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