Mohave softball’s run to semis tops list of 2018 local sports stories

January 2, 2019 GMT

BULLHEAD CITY — The Mohave and River Valley high school softball programs provided quite a show in 2018, as the Lady T-birds got the nod as top Tri-state prep showing of the year.

The T-birds’ run to the Final Four was improbable, which was the reason why they received the accolade, as the River Valley squad was expected to go that far for the third time in as many seasons. Furthermore, Mohave fell by one run with the game-tying and game-winning runs on base in its last at-bat, while River Valley was blown out during their bid to reach the final.

1. Lady T-birds’ magical run ends: Mohave’s three-run, seventh-inning rally falls short

BULLHEAD CITY — The Lady T-birds had the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the top of the seventh, but ended up falling tantalizingly short of taking one step closer to the promised land.

The No. 3-seeded Cactus High School Lady Cobras’ survived No. 6-seeded Mohave High School’s three-run,

seventh-inning rally to escape with a 4-3 victory at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association Softball 4A Championship semifinal victory put the Cobras in the final against the No. 5-seeded Salpointe Catholic Lady Lancers.

To ensure their trip to the final, the Cobras had to endure the T-birds’ top of the seventh.

Mohave senior catcher Hannah Hansen led off with a single and junior third baseman Taylor Lujan walked, as junior courtesy runner Megan Kroll advanced to second and freshman courtesy runner replaced Lujan at first.

Junior second baseman Sammie Welt singled to load the bases and junior left fielder Dae’zha Goodloe singled home Kroll to make it 4-1.

With two outs, senior starting pitcher Kalani Reehill singled home Smith and Welt, as Goodloe advanced to third and Reehill remained at first.

Senior shortstop and cleanup hitter Jaden McDaniel hit a long fly to left field for the final out of the game.

2. River Valley falls in state softball semifinal for third straight year

PHOENIX — The No. 1-seeded Lady Dust Devils played their worst game of the season in the state semifinal for the third year in a row.

The No. 5-seeded Winslow Lady Bulldogs came from behind to turn a close game into a 12-2 rout to advance into the final.

River Valley advanced to its third consecutive Arizona Interscholastic Association Softball 3A State Championships Final Four, only to lose to the Catalina High School Lady Falcons, the Empire High School Lady Ravens, and this year Winslow at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix.

“I can’t get over the semifinal hump,” said Dust Devils head coach Mark Ruckle. “We played our season, 26-5, we played our (butts) off, we were No. 1 all year, we played well (Friday) night and I was feeling good about them this morning.”

3. Mustangs finish season as state runners-up

NEEDLES — The Needles High School Mustangs football season ended 13 points short of a Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association 2A State Championship, in a 30-18 loss to Pershing County’s Mustangs at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas on Nov. 17.

Needles’ season ended as the 2A Southern League champions in the NIAA. Pershing County’s boys are the champions from the Northern League.

Needles Coach Matt Fromelt was as reticent after the loss as he was exuberant after the win over Battle Mountain a week earlier that put his boys into the championship game. No statistics were available, the coach said.

Needles rallied in the second quarter, first with a running play that saw ball carrier Dawsen Yeager fire off a throw to John Perez for a touchdown. The PAT failed. Quarterback Nathanial Parker connected with Dillon Horn to score again; that PAT also failed.

A touchdown by Marcus Turner was called back. The half ended with Pershing County leading 17-12.

4. Needles slides past Lake Mead in overtime

SPARKS — It was a double overtime thriller but the Needles High School Mustangs basketball team came up short against the Battle Mountain High School Longhorns 68-67 in the NIAA 2A state semifinal on Feb. 23 at Sparks High School.

“The boys played hard and left it all on the court but we fell just short of reaching the state final,” said Bill Darrow, Needles athletic director.

The score was tied at 15-15 after one quarter, and the Longhorns led 28-26 at halftime and 44-42 after three periods.

It was tied 54-54 after four quarters and 62-62 after the first overtime.

“This was one of the best games the boys played, as they were executing our game plan very well,” Needles head coach Pat Woodburn said. “What hurt us at the end was our free throw shooting, as we went 10 for 20 at the line.”

5. Mohave’s Patterson earns 4A Conference Coach of the Year award

BULLHEAD CITY — After winning the first game of their doubleheader, the Lady T-birds trailed 10-0 on their home turf at Mohave High School in the second inning to the Lady Marauders from Mingus High School on March 24.

Mohave lost 10-6, and even though the T-birds were in contention to earn the Arizona Interscholastic Association 4A Grand Canyon Region title, they also could have continued to slide and end their second consecutive season without earning a postseason berth.

Little did anyone expect that the T-birds would go on to win 11 of their last 12 regular-season games, which helped catapult them to a region championship and an AIA 4A Final Four finish, while putting Mohave head coach Shannon Patterson in the position to earn AIA 4A Conference Coach of the Year honors.

Patterson also earned the region coach of the year award recently.

“Both (are) extremely great honors,” said Patterson by text message. “I wouldn’t say I expected region coach of the year, but typically the pattern is head coaches with the No. 1 team get that award, so I wasn’t necessarily surprised.”

6. Three CRUHSD student-athletes sign letters of intent with NCAA Division I schools

BULLHEAD CITY — Lady Dust Devils seniors Ryann Glenn and Tianna Williams signed their respective letters of intent. Glenn signed on Nov. 16 and will be attending classes at Creighton University in the fall of 2019 and will be playing softball for the Bluejays, from the Big East Conference, in February of 2020. Williams, who signed on Nov. 24, will be attending classes at Fresno State University in the fall of 2019 and playing softball for the Bulldogs, from the Western Athletic Conference, in February of 2020. The River Valley High School standouts have helped lead the Dust Devils to three consecutive Arizona Interscholastic Association 3A Conference Final Four appearances during their first three seasons with the club.

Mohave High School senior Haylee Austin, who was second in goals and first in assists for the Lady T-birds during her freshman season, signed her letter of intent to attend the University of Wyoming in the middle of the summer of 2019. Austin will play soccer for the Cowboys in early August.

7. CRUHSD student-athletes earn spots at junior colleges, smaller four-year schools

BULLHEAD CITY — While Glenn, Williams and Austin have earned scholarships to play Division I sports, there also have been quite a few other CRUHSD student-athletes who have moved on to attend schools and play sports at the collegiate level.

Former Mohave standout Joe Heath is attending Tohono O’odham Community College and playing basketball for the Jegos this winter; former Mohave stalwarts Jaden McDaniel and Alicia Rhodes are attending school and playing softball, as McDaniel will play softball at Mesa Community College and Rhodes will do likewise at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kan., for the Braves.

Former River Valley Lady Dust Devils pitcher/outfielder Ashley Carter is attending Phoenix College and is playing softball for the Bears in the Arizona Community College Athletics Conference; and former River Valley Dust Devils forward Devin Read is attending Arizona Christian University is playing soccer for the NAIA Firestorm; former Mohave T-birds midfielder Sebastian Leyva is attending GateWay Community College and playing for the Geckos; former Mohave Lady T-birds all-purpose player Natasha Radic is attending Oberlin College and playing NCAA Division III volleyball for the Yeomen this season; from Mohave Lady T-birds forward Aliyah Armijo is attending classes at Salem International University in West Virginia, and completed her freshman soccer season for the NCAA Division II Tigers last fall; and former Mohave T-birds offensive lineman Hunter Salerno attended the University of Jamestown, North Dakota, this fall and winter, and red-shirted for the NAIA Great Plains Athletic Conference Jimmies last fall.

8. Woodburn gets career win 1,200: head coach of Mohave’s 2005-06 state championship team keeps teaching hoops in Needles

BULLHEAD CITY — Two seasons after Mohave earned the state title in 2008, the Roadrunner’s coaching stint at Mohave ended. Woodburn has since coached at Laughlin High School for another couple seasons before recording his 1,200th career high school coaching victory on Jan. 30 after being at the helm for four seasons for the Needles High School Mustangs.

“It’s a great accomplishment because it’s a very hard thing to do and not a lot of coaches can say that they have 1,200 wins,” said Bill Darrow, Mustangs athletic director. “We gave him the game ball, and we had all of the kids sign it when he got his 1,200th win against Mountain View.”

Woodburn began his tenure at Needles four seasons ago, and Darrow said Woodburn has always been prepared, and “the kids always play hard,” he added. “All four years the kids have played hard.”

9. Gillman places 6th at state: Price comes in 24th place

BULLHEAD CITY — Two Mohave Accelerated Learning Center Patriot golfers showed the state what they are made of.

Junior Dakota Gillman shot even-par 70 and was tied for sixth place with six other competitors after the first round of the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division II Championship at the Omni Tucson National Sonoran Course on Monday.

Junior Trevor Price shot 75 and ended the first day tied for 24th.

That is the way it ended.

“On day two, (it was) thunder and lightning all morning, cancell(ing) the round,” said MALC head coach Scott Gillman by email. “So because of that the AIA used day one scoring to decide the championship.

“Dakota received a medal for finishing in a tie for sixth place.

“Our MALC team also received a plaque for winning the Division 2, Section 7 Championship.”

10. Burgess, Mohave begin inaugural girls wrestling campaign

BULLHEAD CITY — The Mohave High School girls wrestling team is three weeks into its first season as an Arizona Interscholastic Association-sanctioned wrestling program, the AIA’s inaugural girls wrestling season.

Mohave head coach Kory Burgess said the Lady T-birds are one of 25 full girls teams competing in AIA Division I.

Sixteen student-athletes comprise Burgess’ girls wrestling team, and the fourth-year Mohave head wrestling coach has recruited anytime, anywhere prior to the season to build such a large roster this season.

Mohave 110-pound sophomore co-captain Angelina Rediger did not embrace the sport immediately, and it took a little coaxing from Burgess to woo her into his program.

“Burgess actually talked me into it because I wasn’t actually planning on doing it at all,” Rediger said. “At the booth for registration, he talked me into it. He said, ‘You should do it.’ ”

CO-CAPTAINS: Seniors Jasmine Lobato, 135 pounds, and Tiffany Salahub, 130, along with Rediger, are the co-captains of the girls wrestling team.

McKillop, who has been the sports editor of the Daily News for close to a decade and a half, selected the Tri-state’s top 10 high school team and individual sports accomplishments of 2018.

The Laughlin Times and Needles Desert Star contributed to the report.