It’s a unique advantage in high school softball. The starting pitcher is often one of the team’s top hitters, so instead of lamenting the lack of offensive production, she has the ability to do something about it.
Mackenzie Popescue tossed a three-hit shutout on the mound and went 1-for-3 with the game’s first RBI at the plate as Scottsdale Chaparral sewed up a spot in the 4A Division I state final with a 2-0 win over Tucson Sabino on Thursday at Rose Mofford Sports Complex.
Popescue was not the only one hitting — Chaparral had eight hits and got the leadoff batter on in the first five innings — but coach Brad Goddes said it’s a luxury to have your starting pitcher be an offensive weapon.
“She’s done that for us all season,” Goddes said.
“She’s just an all-around good softball player.”
“It definitely makes me feel better when we get a couple runs in the first couple innings,” Popescue said.
“(Leadoff hitters Kelsey Stander and Tessa Braga), they’re amazing, and it’s my job to get them around.”
Popescue sailed through the first six innings, but things got dicey in the seventh.
She walked the first batter and then gave up a double to Killian McEwan to put runners on second and third with no outs.
Popescue buckled down from there, striking out Emma Dunlap on a full count and then getting a popout and a strikeout to end the contest. “The adrenaline was definitely there,” Popescue said. “You just have to control yourself out there.”
Chaparral will play Tucson Canyon del Oro in the championship at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Rose Mofford. CDO beat Glendale Cactus, 6-0 Thursday.
Canyon del Oro has been on Chaparral’s radar all season. The teams haven’t played each other, but Chaparral’s players are familiar with Dorados ace Kenzie Fowler through summer ball.