Create a game plan and execute. That was the strategy for Benson pitcher Katie Sherman, and her execution was nearly flawless.
Pitching out of jams and keeping opposing hitters off balance, Sherman proceeded to implement her plan, and the result was Benson’s 5-1 victory of Phoenix Bourgade Catholic for the state 2A softball title at Farrington Stadium in Tempe Monday night.
The championship was Benson’s first state crown since 2011, and the initial one for Yogi Wilson as head coach.
Sherman relied as much on a cerebral approach as physical execution. In the end, the sophomore allowed only four hits and no more than one in any individual inning.
“The plan was to go with my change-up,” Sherman said. “Actually, it turned out to be a killer change, and I stayed with it.”
Sherman was so effective that Bourgade Catholic could only manage multiple runners in three innings. In a fitting end to seal its state crown, the Benson defense ended its title run with a dramatic double play.
Ahead by four in the seventh, Bourgade Catholic had runners on second and third and one out. Opposing pitcher Malloy McDowell grounded to third and that’s when Hope Adams fired across the diamond for an out. First baseman Cori Jackson then nailed Daisy Hernandez trying to score and the twin killing sent Benson into its victory dance.
“What makes this special is we have such a young team,” Wilson said. “We have only three seniors, so the core of this team will back.”
Strong offense gave Benson an early lead.
A two-run second inning was powered by a two-out, two-run double from Jaime Barney, Benson’s ninth hitter in the lineup, following singles from Jackson and Ashleigh Davis.
Another two-spot created a four-run advantage as a pair of extra-base hits highlighted a two-run third frame.
First, shortstop Emmarae Wilson slammed a homer over the left-field fence. Wilson’s ball cleared the fence with plenty to spare. Then Adams doubled and scored as Sophia McCoy grounded out to second.
Down by three in the bottom of the fifth, Bourgade Catholic had an opportunity to cut into its deficit and take a possible lead. With runners on second and third, Sherman retired opposing pitcher Malory McDowell on pop-up to short and Briana Soltero fouled out to the catcher to end the threat.