By: Joshua Gerard Gargiulo
PHOENIX - Nearly two months into the 2019 season, Phoenix College softball is in familiar territory, tied with Arizona Western College for 1st in the ACCAC with a 22-2 conference record.
The two teams, who had produced a thriller earlier this month, will face off one more time in Yuma on April 20th. After a split-series in Phoenix, the Matadors will be desperate to “close out the series” at home; while Phoenix College will be looking to “steal one on the road,” just as AWC did on March 5th.
With the top-three Division I schools in a league of their own when it comes to hitting stats; Phoenix College comes 4th in most categories including: runs, doubles and batting average. However, Phoenix College’s pitching stats blow all others out of the water, most notably due to the presence of Briana Hardy.
Despite being tied for the least amount of “Games pitched,” Phoenix College is brandishing a conference-leading 9.32 K/9, alongside a 1.48 team ERA and season-low 112 hits allowed. Most impressive of all, Phoenix College has allowed half of the runs second-place Arizona Western has; the Matadors with 102, the Bears with 54.
Brianna Hardy, in 30-total games, has recorded a .357 batting average with eight home runs and 25-total RBIs. In the pitching categories, although ranking ninth in appearances, she carries a 16-0 record with an astonishing 13.62 strikeouts/per game in 98.2 Innings pitched.
A game separates the top-three teams, before it tails off drastically. In fourth-place is Central Arizona at 16-8 in conference; five games behind Yavapai, and six games behind AWC and PC. Without playing fortune teller, it is fair to say the Lady Bears’ have a rather-favorable schedule the rest of the way.
Posting a combined team batting average of .404, there are eleven Phoenix College players batting above .400. Six of those eleven players have over ten RBI with a combined-fifteen home runs between them. There is a three-way tie for hits leader among Mackenzie Whitten, Haley Johnston and Kamryn Moctezuma.
When taking on the Chandler-Gilbert Coyotes Tuesday, the Bears’ registered five hits in their 6-0 victory in Game one. Three of the six RBIs came from a Breanna Hardy three-run homerun, while the other three were product of Haley Johnston. Another complete game was served up by Brianna Hardy, with a side dish of ten strikeouts.
Game two, which saw number two pitcher Maddison Wattis on the mound, fared better for the Bears. As Phoenix College registered twice as many hits in the 8-0, “run-ruled” victory. The top performance from Sydney Smith, who went 3-4 with a double, RBI and two runs.
As we head into the final month and two days of competition, the Lady Bears enter a three-game road trip, at Eastern Arizona; at South Mountain; and at Yavapai- this week. They return to Phoenix College, on April 5th, for two double-headers against Central Arizona and Glendale.