Vikings softball wins 1A State Championships
Lady Vikings battle Joseph City for title at 1A State softball championships
MESA, Ariz.— For the Williams High School girls softball team, it was the perfect end to the perfect season. Besides winning the 1A State Championship, they also are the winningest team in the history of Williams softball, ending the season 17-0 overall and 15-0 in the 1A Conference.
In the title game May 12 at Arizona State University, the Lady Vikes rebounded from an 8-3 deficit in the fifth inning to capture the championship.
Makaela Mackay's triple in the bottom of the fifth was the turning point for the Vikings, which led to seven runs and created a 10-8 lead for the Vikings, which they never relinquished.
Cheznie Carter came up to the plate and belted a double to score Mackay. Kai Mortensen and Riley McNelly hit singles, and Shaelee Echeverria and Shione Alvarado got on base with walks. Mackay came to bat again, and blasted her second triple of the inning, bringing home Alvarado.
The top-seeded Vikings held off No. 3 Joseph City to take home their second championship in the last three years.
WHS pitcher Mortensen threw 110 pitches in the game. Mortensen is the top-ranked pitcher in Arizona, with 27 wins, 161 strikeouts, and 141 innings pitched in 2023. She's also the seventh ranked pitcher in the nation.
"The girls were amazing," Williams Coach Raul Hatch said after the game. "Every one of those girls came through and made a great play during the game."
Hatch had high praise for his outfielders.
"Chantel Fowler in left field did an excellent job. Shione Alvarado in right field had an amazing catch,” he said. “She had to run about 50 feet to make the catch. She held on, went to the ground, then made a beautiful throw for another out. Riley McNelly was error-free in all playoff games in her center field position."
Even though the infield committed three errors, they came through with some clutch plays. In the top of the seventh with Williams up by two runs, Echeverria snagged a hard hit line drive only a couple of inches from the ground. She then tagged second base for the final out of the game.
"Shaelee is an amazing player," Hatch said. "Her brain absorbs everything. She's a great player to coach."
At bat, Mackay pounded out two triples, both in the fifth inning, and scored two runs. Carter went 4-for-4 and scored a run.
Both teams scored one run in the first inning. In the second, Joseph City added three more runs to their total. Williams scored two of their own in the third, to pull to within one run. Joseph City added two more in the fourth.
The fifth inning belonged to the Lady Vikings, who exploded for seven runs to take a 10-7 lead. Both teams added a run in the sixth, and Williams held the Wildcats scoreless to secure the 1A championship
The girls also won the 1A Sportsmanship Award.
"I'm almost as proud of these girls for the Sportsmanship Award as I am for the state championship," Hatch said.
In the semi-final game against St. David the preceding day, the girls faced freshman pitcher Paisley Gooding.
"She (Gooding) had our girls chasing the ball, which isn't something we normally do," Hatch said. "She had great ball movement and control. She's one to look out for in the future. St. David is a team to look out for in the next years. They're well coached and well supported."
"One of the 5A directors told me that he was impressed with the level of support the 1A teams have. He said we have a lot more community support than the larger schools. We appreciate all the support from this community."
The Lady Vikings and St. David were tied at 2-2 at the end of the third inning. The Williams team added two more in the fourth, one in the fifth, and four more in the sixth to seal the win. St. David scored a single run in both the sixth and seventh innings for the final score of 9-4.