No coach? No problem.
Such was the joke with Mountain View on Saturday night as the Toros capped off an impressive week at the Desert Mountain Invitational tournament with the championship, and, until the trophy presentation, without its coach.
Toros coach Joe Goodman was ejected during the semifinal game against Basha earlier Saturday afternoon, so the mild-mannered first-year coach watched from beyond the outfield fences.
As they did in a comeback win against the Bears to reach its first championship game of this elite tournament, the Toros had no trouble carrying on.
The Toros scored in four of the first five innings against upstart-Paradise Valley, and pitcher Val Kaff tossed a five-hitter with 13 strikeouts in a 7-0 nightcap victory to win the 15th edition of this tournament at Horizon Park in Scottsdale.
It was the first tournament title game appearance for both the Toros and Division II-Trojans, and, as a measure of the top competition the tournament draws, Mountain View was the 13th different team in those 15 years to win the tournament.
"That was awesome," Goodman said. "They've played great."
Kaff and P.V.'s Mariah Valencia each pitched nearly every inning during the five-day tournament, but Kaff's offense gave her a 2-0 lead after one inning and 5-0 after the fourth.
Defense hampered Valencia's efforts as the Trojans committed five errors, but Kaff also helped her own cause with a two-run home run to left in the first inning and Savannah Kirkpatrick blasted another to center field in the fourth. Erin Manuel added two hits and two RBI for the Trojans.
Kaff was named the tournament's MVP.
The Trojans wore gold jerseys and blue hats to promoted childhood cancer awareness rather than the red-and-black school colors.
But even after last year's state quarterfinal appearance in 4A Division II last year, Dave Moore's team further established itself as a team to reckon with in Division II, and was a talking point of all week. Their impressive run was capped by a win against Notre Dame early Saturday and then a comeback victory against Red Mountain to reach the championship.
"We're extremely proud of the way we've competed," Moore said. "One of our goals was to get to this game after (playing in the tournament) last season. We competed and played scrappy. They worked their butts off."
Red Mountain held on late to top Basha, 12-10, in a third-place game full of substitutions and positional changes.Ashley Hill hit a grand slam and Bri Gonzalez and Haley Culley also homered for the Lions, who finished 6-1 in the tournament.
Ironwood Ridge shut out Desert Mountain, 5-0, to win the consolation bracket, while Pinnacle's 5-1 victory against Queen Creek gave the Pioneers the consolation runners-up.
This was the final big tournament of the regular season. The final month of the regular season begins for most schools on Tuesday, having to play three or four games per week for the next month leading up to the "big" postseason tournaments.
"I'm not worried," Goodman said of the upcoming scheduling crunch. "I think with what we showed that in one game we can play with anybody."
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.