To most people, tossing 17 strikeouts with a purple-colored pitching hand in a complete-game shutout to win the state championship should be enough to merit vacation.
There was a reward for Dallas Escobedo and her Phoenix St. Mary’s teammates. Most of the team went out for pizza an hour after winning the Class 5A-I state title against Sierra Vista Buena in extra innings.
But early the next morning, Escobedo was back on the mound playing club softball. She pitched a few more innings on Sunday.
Such is the life of this freshman phenom and Tribune player of the year, who loves the game too much to take time off. It’s been this way for the 14-year-old since she began T-ball when she was 8.
“Everything that happens means I have to work harder for it the next day,” she said.
The numbers are dizzying. She had a 0.76 ERA, 501 strikeouts in 260 innings, a perfect game, five no-hitters and nine one-hitters.
She threw every inning of every game for St. Mary’s this season, a feat unlikely to continue through 2010. By the team’s count, she threw 1,960 pitches, 1,627 (83 percent) for strikes.
She also hit .401 with eight home runs.
“I believe she’ll be one of the best in the country when it’s all over with,” Knights coach Bobby Pacheco said.
Against Buena, the first pitch of the game from Meghan McIntosh hit Escobedo on the right hand. She shook her hand a few times as her hand changed colors, then threw eight shutout innings. She pitched out of a runner-onthird, no-out jam in the fifth, and further helped the cause with a walk and scored the second run of the eighth.
It was the 12th time in the state tournament she was intentionally walked.
“It’s frustrating, but I try to blow it off as soon as I get on base,” she said. “It’s happened so many times.”
She has three years of high school remaining, but the college letters are trickling in. She’s seen the scouts at games with their school-sponsored shirts and clipboards. Schools can’t talk to her, so camp invitations are their forms of communication.
The recruiting avalanche has begun, two years before she can drive.
“She’s under the gun because she has nowhere to go but up,” Pacheco said. “She’s at the top, but we’re not going to let her go down. It depends on how she reacts to this as a 14-year-old. She’s still a young kid.”
MEMORABLE MOMENTS FROM THE 2007 SEASON
Good Knights: Behind a core of freshmen and sophomores, St. Mary’s rode the arm of freshman Dallas Escobedo to the school’s first 5A state championship. The No. 3 seed Knights reached the semifinals but lost the first game to Red Mountain, then trailed 2-0 entering the seventh inning of the elimination game but scored three runs to advance to the championship against No. 1 Sierra Vista Buena. Escobedo (17 strikeouts) and Buena’s Meghan McIntosh kept the game deadlocked at 0-0 going into extra innings. The Knights scored twice in the eighth inning behind sophomore catcher Molly Smith, who made a habit during the state tournament of coming through with late-inning hits.
Bears and Gators, oh my: Neither Basha nor Xavier was viewed as a major state tournament threat, but both quickly emerged. Basha was a No. 9 seed, but with Samantha Parlich pitching and balanced hitting, the Bears knocked off higher-seeded Highland and Central Region rival Corona del Sol to reach the state semifinals. The Bears beat top-seed Buena in Game 1 before running out of gas late in Game 2. Xavier won more games (22) than any time in the past decade and reached the state quarterfinals for the first time in eight years under first-year coach Bobby Pena.
Titanic performance: Last year, Arcadia surprised some on its way to the 4A-II state title as the No. 4 seed. This season, all eyes were on the Titans, and they delivered. Paula Liebler proved to be one of the best pitchers in the state as she led Arcadia to its second consecutive state title with a 3-2 win over Tempe in the title game.
Firebirds reborn: Chaparral took the underdog role and ran with it — almost to a state title. A team made up of largely underclassmen, the Firebirds breezed through the 4A Desert Sky Region and the state tournament until falling in the title game, 1-0, to Tucson Canyon del Oro and its pitching phenom, Kenzie Fowler. Almost everybody returns for Chaparral, and Fowler does for Canyon del Oro, so this late-season matchup could be a recurring theme.
Class 5A All-Tribune first team
Player School Yr. Pos. Comment
Dallas Escobedo St. Mary’s Fr. P 501 K, 16 shutouts and 5 no-hitters
Samantha Parlich Basha So. P 11-5 with 0.76 ERA for state semifinalists
Ashley Hansen Corona del Sol Jr. C Hit .623 w/26 RBI, 13 SB
Caitlin Bayley Xavier Jr. IF .429 with six HR to lead Gators revival
Katelyn Boyd Horizon Jr. IF Batted .646 with five HR and 40 RBI
Whitney Phillips Desert Mtn. Sr. IF Hit .465 hitter with 23 RBI
Vanessa Alvarez Corona So. IF Team-leading 33 RBI to go with .513 avg.
Emily Pierce Desert Vista Sr. OF Hit .455 with area-best 29 stolen bases
Sara Sandoval Mesa Jr. OF Batted .495 with 33 RBI; top-notch defense
Annie Lockwood Paradise Valley Jr. DH All-around threat (.510, 9 HR, 33 RBI, 10 SB)
Talor Haro Highland Jr. Util Led E.V. in hitting (.699), 2nd in Ks (270)
Tawny Horton Highland So. OF Dynamic alongside Haro, .528, 5 HR, 23 RBI
Athlete of the year: Dallas Escobedo, St. Mary’s
Coach of the year: Bobby Peña, Xavier. In his first year, he led the Gators to their first 20-win season in a decade and first state tournament in eight years.
Class 5A All-Tribune second team
Player School Yr. Pos. Comment
Sara Washburn Red Mtn. Jr. P 2nd straight first-team All-E.V. Region
Stephanie Janes Xavier Jr. P Went 16-7 with 1.05 ERA and 185 Ks
Lindsay Vollmer Horizon Jr. C Hit .434 with area-best 42 RBI
Lacy Goodman Red Mtn. Sr. IF Terrific fielding SS hit .400 with 14 SB
Krista Rosiewicz Paradise Valley So. IF Hit .439 with 8 HR and 16 SB
Alex Bejarano Chandler Sr. IF .494 average to go with 20 RBI
Brittany Moore Paradise Valley Jr. IF Hit .481 with 24 SB
Casey Willow Corona del Sol Sr. OF Table setter hit .519 for Aztecs
Alyssa Goldsmith Gilbert Jr. OF Terrific atop lineup with Amber Price
Becca Tikey Horizon So. OF Formed top OF tandem with Sara Strickland
Bree Ensminger Red Mtn. Sr. DH Will catch for North Carolina next year
Lauren Kemp Desert Mtn. Sr. Util 16-7 as a pitcher; .382 with 30 RBI hitting
Class 5A honorable mention
Basha: Brittany Lobell, Jr., IF; Sierra Rodriguez, Fr., IF; Darlene Valles, Fr., OF.
Chandler: Alex Bejarano, Sr., IF; Shanntel Hunter, So., OF; Tyler Weldon, Sr., IF.
Corona del Sol: Brittany Giannonatti, Sr., P.
Desert Mountain: Meredith Whitney, Jr., IF; Rachel Harbottle, Jr., IF; Christy McDannel, Sr., C.
Desert Ridge: Megan Steffensmeier, Jr., IF.
Desert Vista: Brittany Wojtowicz, Sr., OF; Emily Pierce, Sr., OF.
Dobson: Katie Doyle, So., C; Krista Hicks, Jr., IF; Kayla Kruper, Jr., OF.
Gilbert: Amber Price, Jr., IF; Bailey Blake, IF.
Hamilton: Dana Pechloff, Sr., IF; Stephanie Rieck, Fr., C.
Horizon: Sara Strickland, Jr., OF.
Marcos de Niza: Allison Gerlach, Sr., OF.
Mesa: Brianna Robles, Jr., P.
Mesquite: Stephanie Hagelsieb, So., IF; Katie Dennis, Sr., IF.
Mountain Pointe: Lauren Irwin, Sr., Util.
Mountain View: Emily DeMeulanaere, Sr.,
Class 4A-1A All-Tribune first team
Player School Yr. Pos. Comment
Mackenzie Popescue Chaparral So. P 20-5, 0.58 ERA, 252 Ks; hit .478 w/40 RBI
Paula Liebler Arcadia Jr. P Went 18-2, with 0.72 ERA and 284 Ks
Hayley Temple Valley Chris. So. P Went 11-3 with 0.54 ERA, hit .603
Andrea Ortega Coronado Sr. IF Hit .727 with 4 HR, 22 RBI
Danielle Madison Arcadia Sr. SS Hit .424 during season, .615 at state
Kelsey Stander Chaparral Sr. CF Hit .440, stole 53 bases
Heidi Purtzer Sco. Christian Sr. P/IF Hit .550 with 14 HR, 52 RBI, had 1.16 ERA
Jenny Solich Saguaro Sr. C Hit .531 with 3 HR, 21 RBI
Kelsie Rodriguez Seton Fr. 1B Hit .523 with 33 RBI
Kelsey Carter Pinnacle Sr. OF Hit .494 with six triples
Dani Lougheed Sco. Christian Sr. IF Hit .521 with nine 3B, 22 RBI
Claire Morton Tempe So. C Hit .480 with 11 2B, 4 3B
Athlete of the year: Mackenzie Popescue, Chaparral
Coach of the year: Shelly Arredondo, Tempe. Led Buffaloes to title game as 4A-II’s seventh seed
Class 4A-1A All-Tribune second team
Player School Yr. Pos. Comment
Alexa Uriarte Tempe Sr. SS Hit .343 with 6 HR for state runners-up
Tessa Braga Chaparral Jr. 2B .992 fielding pct., hit .452, stole 27 bases
Emily Derbak Notre Dame Sr. P Wells Fargo II Region first teamer
Peach Luna Chaparral Jr. 3B Batted .457 with 2 HR, 26 RBI
Julie Hershkowitz Seton Sr. SS Good glove, hit .435 with 2 HR
Erin McCarthy Seton Jr. P 10-1 against 4A-2A teams, 108 strikeouts
Amy Renteria Apache JunctionJr. IF Batted .404 with 3 HR, 25 RBI, 9 SB
Breann Ferradino Cactus Shadows Sr. SS First team all-region, team MVP
Steph Pesqueira Tempe Fr. P 2.36 ERA, 110 strikeouts to just 13 walks
Carrie Peters McClintock Jr. C Hit .423 with 4 HR, 31 RBI
Marissa Smith Arcadia Jr. P/IF 7-2 with 2.86 ERA, 5 HR, 30 RBI
Alex Petznick Sco. Christian Sr. C Hit .484 with 1 HR, 33 RBI
Class 4A-1A honorable mention
Apache Junction: Katie Corbin, Jr., C; Brianne O’Brien, Jr., OF.
Arcadia: Kirstyn Hayes, Jr., IF, 2B; Erika Kiel, Jr., OF.
Cactus Shadows: Lauren Clepper, Fr., IF; Nikki Horton, Sr., P.
Chaparral: Liz Hudson, So., IF; Caitlin Melnychenko, Jr., C; Kennedy Byxbee, Jr., IF.
Fountain Hills: Trish Koutsulis, Sr., IF.
Higley: Casey Green, Jr., OF.
McClintock: Jannette Castillo, Sr., OF; Rose Rover Jr., IF.
Notre Dame: Kelsey Whittier, Jr., IF. Pinnacle: Breanna Hackworth, Sr., IF.
Queen Creek: Jamie Kottkamp, So., IF; Mallory DeGroot Jr.,OF; Christy Marin Sr.,OF; Jessi Wooten Sr., C.
Saguaro: Amanda Holleb, Jr., IF, Jenifer Pease, So., OF; Kelly Tweito, Jr., 1B.
Scottsdale Christian: Brianna Lyding, Sr., P.
Seton: Ashley Wetzel, Sr., C; Kayla Carriers, Jr., CF.
Tempe: Nikki Burnham, Sr., IF. Valley Christian: Sarah Olinger, Sr., OF