Sports Stories
Like a purple and black thunderhead about to burst, you could see it coming.
By Nick Ruland
Larson Newspapers

Like a purple and black thunderhead about to burst, you could see it coming.

In the first game of Sedona Red Rock High?s softball doubleheader against Parker High on Wednesday, April 4, a 14-4 loss, the girls played Gilligan Island ball, stranding runners and bumbling away scoring opportunities in a three hour tour all the bases but home affair.

Getting ?em on was no problem, getting ?em in turned into a head game.

Prime example: With runners at second and third with two outs in a middle inning sequence, Dani Jovanovic mashed two balls deep into foul territory. ?D.J.? was anxious. Two pitches later she struck out looking on the outside corner. ?D.J.? was hesitant.

A few hairs to the outside and Jovanovic hits a home run, a hundredth of a second later and it?s in the gap.

The lack of a team victory since 2005 didn?t help the pressure.

Solving problems in softball doesn?t typically happen a centimeter at a time as it should.

Funny how line-outs turn into laced-hits, strike-outs into walks, and pop-ups morph to bloop-drops.

Once the girls got that feeling, they didn?t stop.

Sedona busted out for 23 runs and their first win in three seasons in the second game.

?There was no looking back,? Head Coach Tammy Walz said.

And there would be no defending Sedona?s barrage.

Ashley Lo Duca led-off with two hits, Jovanovic added two walks, a single, a hit by pitch and a sacrifice fly. Jenna Diaz had three hits, Paige Brackin and Emmi Davis each added hits, and Kayla Parks received ?Bondsian? treatment with an unheard of six walks.

Not everybody came to the party. Hayley McCord was out with a sprained hand. The absence pushed Lo Duca to shortstop, Calla Fisher to third base, Jovanovic to the hill and Diaz to the backstop. McCord is the team?s top catcher. Lo Duca caught the second game.

None of that mattered. The girls were going to get it done regardless.

?It feels good. It was fun with the whole team going,? Lo Duca said.

What happened?

?In the first game we had bases loaded situations and we had to walk back. [In the second game] We jumped on them in that second inning and it escalated from there,? Walz said.

What will be bred from this new-found confidence?

A lesson at least.

?Before they could rationalize what I was saying,? Walz said.

Now the girls have come out the other side after learning the hard way. Words become embedded.

Sure, the girls had improved on the field, particularly defensively by making the throw ahead of the runner consistently, but had little tangible to make of it.

Tuesday was a paradigm shift.

Initially, scoring situations succumbed to the black-hole effect, where even light-speed shots could not escape the gravitational pull of the great web-masters from Parker. Sedona played with the Bermuda Triangle reality in game two, where the field turned into a magnetic pole of Sedona contact-everything dropped.

Sedona may have found some answers, not that anyone could explain them.

The girls travel to Chino Valley High on Tuesday, April 10.