AP NEWS

RVHS loses to eventual champs

May 17, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — It has been nearly two weeks since the Lady Dust Devils’ season came to an end at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix when the Sabino High School Lady Sabercats blanked River Valley High School 5-0 in the second round of the 2019 Arizona Interscholastic Association Softball State Championship on May 3.

The River Valley squad entered the tourney as a No. 2 seed and the Sabino team as a No. 7.

Sabercats senior right-handed hurler Danielle Kirschofer hurled a two-hit, seven-inning, complete-game shutout to halt the Dust

Devils’ state-championship dream for the fourth season in a row. River Valley fell in the semifinals against Tucson Catalina Foothills in 2016, Tucson Empire in 2017 and Winslow in 2018, as two of their last three semifinals’ losses were against Tucson high schools.

Add this season’s Sabino loss into the mix, that makes three of their last four season-ending, playoff losses that have come against Tucson schools.

Kirschofer and the Sabercats went on to top Tucson’s Pusch Ridge 3-0 in the semis and Snowflake 14-2 in the finals to convincingly earn the 3A title.

“I think they really worked hard for this moment,” said Sabino head coach Chris Stainer when asked about Kirschofer’s performance in the circle. “For the last three years we’ve been wanting to get to the next step, so these kids have some great upperclassmen and leadership and she is one of them.

“She’s a great competitor, she hit her spots and, ‘Cassie’ (Castaneda) our catcher, made some great calls tonight.”

Stainer said her Sabercats earned a Final Four berth two years ago and had not advanced beyond that — that was until Sabino went on to win it all three days later.

The Dust Devils hung in there for 41/2 innings — trailing just 1-0 — against the eventual state champions.

“They’re a well-coached team; they had solid fundamentals,” Stainer said. “Their pitcher, I thought, was very good.”

Dust Devils sophomore right-hander Chloe Hibbard and Kirschofer were engaged in a pitchers’ duel until Sabercats junior Sydney Gray hit a home run, which made it 1-0 in the top of the third inning.

Hibbard gave up five runs on nine hits, while striking out seven, walking three and hitting one batter in seven innings to take the complete-game loss.

“They’re a good team,” Stainer said. “We expected a battle tonight and we knew we had to bring our very best.”

River Valley head coach Kathleen Watson gave the Sabercats credit for defeating her Dust Devils.

“Sabino is a good team,” Watson said. “They had good pitching; we knew that they had good hitters.

“We came out with what we could and I felt that our kids fought the entire game.

“And we hit a couple of really hard balls, but just right at them.”

Watson added: “That was a really good team that was across us today, and I felt like we put everything we could into that game.”