Chaparral southpaw ace Dallas McBride was a bit wild early on, but didn’t flinch.
With some adjustments and still fighting pneumonia, McBride didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning, and settled down enough to throw a two-hitter in the 14th-seeded Firebirds’ 6-1 win Wednesday night over No. 8 Horizon to stay alive in the Division I softball state tournament at Rose Mofford softball complex.
Chaparral (27-11) plays its third game in four days on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Rose Mofford against No. 5 Mountain View, with a berth in Monday’s championship game on the line.
The Toros lost 2-0 to sixth-seeded Red Mountain on Wednesday night.
“At first I was shaky because I didn’t feel well and the team was kind of anxious,” said McBride, who also homered late in the game. “But later on, when we started scoring runs, I just got more comfortable.”
For Chaparral, one of three teams still standing as a No. 14 seed, the night started shaky. McBride hit Horizon catcher Margaret Stahm in the first but got two ground balls to get out of the inning. Then, in the third, she hit Huskies' ace Tamara Statman with one out after she was hit by a pitch, and both teams were warned by the home plate umpire.
McBride got Horizon's potent middle of the lineup, Stahm and Kaila Jacobi, to fly out to center and Statman never got off first.
The Firebirds (27-11) and Huskies (29-6) had faced each other during the regular season and split the two games.
“We really changed our game plan,” said Chaparral coach Stefanie Ewing. “We went with a lot more off-speed, try to move the ball around a little bit more. She made some great adjustments in the circle and pitched a great game.”
While Horizon had a harder time getting into any rhythm, Statman had trouble finding the strike zone.
“We couldn’t find the zone in the beginning, that took us out of the game pretty quickly,” Horizon coach Lindsey Collins said. “She’s trying to figure out, I’m trying to figure out where is it missing and my catcher is talking to me. Even if it is not missing, we have to make an adjustment.”
Chaparral got all the offense it needed in the second when the Firebirds strung together four hits to score three runs. The big blow was Kendra Coleman’s two-run double to right-center. That came after Alana Anderson’s infield single scored the first run with the bases loaded. Anderson was thrown out at the plate on Coleman’s double to end the inning.
Statman also settled down, allowing just one hit over the next four innings, until the seventh. Coleman hit a long double to right and then McBride hit a shot to dead center to give Chaparral a 5-1 lead. Alexa Thorell singled in another run for the final margin.
The only real threat Horizon made was in the fifth when Jordan Wehr hit a sharp grounder that second baseman Lauren LaTerra couldn’t handle and Wehr ended up on second. With two outs, Statman beat out an infield single to LaTerra and then Stahm hit a grounder to LaTerra. However, LaTerra's toss to first baseman Blakeley Koziol pulled her off the bag, allowing the run to score.
The Firebirds got Statman trying to reach third on the play to end the inning.
McBride allowed a flare single in the sixth but retired the last four who faced her. She struck out seven and did not walk a batter.
“They were really standing on the plate and they made a big deal out of if I came inside,” McBride said. “So I just started working on the outside pitch. I went farther and farther outside and they didn’t hit it.”