Corona del Sol senior righthander Michelle Farrell claims that Tuesday’s no -hitter thrown by her understudy — sophomore Elena Marroquin — had nothing to do with Farrell’s dominant performance Wednesday.
But she appeared to be on top of her game, and that’s bad news to any softball club facing her.
"She’s the best pitcher in the state of Arizona," Mountain Pointe coach Mike Griffith said after Farrell methodically struck out 13 hitters and allowed only three hits in a 4-0 Aztecs victory over the host Pride in Central Region play Thursday afternoon.
Farrell is the main holdover off last year’s 5A state champion club, which lost more than half its lineup to graduation (and Division I colleges). And if it’s bad news to the conference that she’s back for her senior season, it would also be bad news that many observers — including Corona coach Jeep Ray — say that the Aztecs are even better offensively than they were last season.
"Last year we had kind of lumpy, clumpy hitting," Ray said. "This year we can really spread it out, hitting wise."
The top-ranked Aztecs (14-2 overall, 3-0 region) got all the offense they needed in a three-run first inning off senior right-hander Kari Quinn as cleanup hitter Kelsey Starr (a sophomore) drove in two runs. With Starr hitting fourth and classmate Caylyn Carlson hitting third, and with Whitney Lebowitz and Katie Laing back for their senior seasons, the Aztecs appear to have at least filled most of any hitting void left by graduation.
Heading into Wednesday’s game, seven of the nine Corona batters — led by Lebowitz’s .592 average and Carlson’s .532 — entered the week hitting .300 or better.
As a team, Corona is hitting .390.
Quinn (9-12) allowed only five hits and broke up Farrell’s no-hit bid with a long opposite-field triple to right leading off the fourth inning.
But the damage was done in the first and Farrell took over from there.
Farrell (11-1) stranded Quinn at third by making Lauren Stephan and Jessica Lopez her eighth and ninth strikeouts of the game and getting Renee Boehm to bounce out to the mound.
The Pride (9-13, 1-3) got a one-out single from Tiffany Trujillo and a two-out single by Valerie Villela in the fifth, but Lebowitz, the catcher, gunned down Villela trying to take second on the hit.
"I was pretty much on top of our game," said Farrell. "Our sophomores came up and they can hit."