There was nothing lucky or unlucky about No. 13.
A Perry softball team which already figured to make some noise this season is off to a screaming start this season, with the Pumas' winning streak now at 13 consecutive games after a 6-2 win over Williams Field in the championship game of the Marcos de Niza/McClintock tournament on Wednesday.
Perry (16-2) hasn't lost since Red Mountain late in the Lion Country Classic tournament in late February (Perry also lost to Desert Ridge in that tournament), and while the sights are firmly set on making May a month to remember, the tangible proof of Perry's depth is what the team finds gratifying to see.
Perry used three different pitchers in sweeping through its side of the tournament bracket. The Pumas turned a couple solid defensive plays against the Black Hawks. In addition to leadoff speedster Laynee Gomez's three hits and three stolen bases, the 5-through-9 hitters took turns having an impact.
"What's good about this team is it seems to be someone different every game that leads us, not just two or three players," Pumas coach Kevin Chapin said.
Jillian Leslie threw a complete game for Perry (16-2) in the win, and overcame some wildness (five walks) with nine strikeouts and worked out of james in the first and sixth innings, while her defense helped squash a last-ditch Williams Field rally in the seventh.
Largely because of a two-run error, Perry scored three runs in the bottom of the first to take a 3-1 lead, then added two more in the second and one in the third thanks to a couple steals, walks and a wild pitch by Williams Field.
Led by Gomez and Sabrina Nieto (two steals, run scored), the Pumas stole six bases in the game. Leslie scored twice while Brittany Hopper and Madison Lafleur each had RBIs.
The Pumas are off for 10 days before the crux of their power rankings schedule begins.
"We have our eyes on the big one," Chapin said of possible future trophies to be won this season.
Williams Field clamped down on Perry's offense and played better defense for the final four innings. The Black Hawks couldn't cash in on opportunities for more, but still got two hits from Trinity Watts and RBIs from Brittany Heyer and Tara O'Dell.
Michelle Poe settled in on the pitching mound after the second and shut out Perry for the final three innings.
The Black Hawks (9-5) similarly see a solid future, and the Division II squad not only wanted to play Division I schools in tournaments to help increase its competition, but contending Div. I teams such as Perry.
The Black Hawks took second place in the Buckeye Invitational to begin the season, but this week was tougher to navigate. With only four days of practice before the season began in Buckeye, the Black Hawks' 5-0 showing through their side of this tournament bracket was welcomed, as was hanging with the Pumas for awhile on Wednesday.
Given the play and overall competition, this runner-up trophy received was enjoyed slightly more than the first one.
"The girls are playing well and we can see ourselves getting better, and we need to play teams like (Perry) to get better," Williams Field coach Cheri Smith said. "...The goal at the end is to get to the (Division II) state tournament so this can only help."
In the third-place game, Gilbert shut out Poston Butte, 11-0, in five innings. Two pitchers combined on the shutout for the Tigers, while Jenna Huerta led a balanced offensive attack with a two-run home run.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.