By MIKE MONTFORT (Photos by Keith Speer)
— Navarro’s sweep Sunday of Bossier Parish enabled it to secure the East Zone’s third seed, heading into the four-day Region XIV Softball Tournament that begins Thursday at San Jacinto South.
The Bulldogs, coached by Jessica Karenke-Burke and Courtney Anderson, finished the regular season with a 32-18 season record and an 18-10 zone mark after their 9-0 and 7-5 victories over the Lady Cavaliers here.
Navarro, an NJCAA Tournament qualifier last year, enters the eight-team double-elimination regional tournament on a three-game winning streak.
On Sunday, the Bulldogs celebrated ‘Sophomore Day’ and rode the power bat of leftfielder Miranda Worthington, who went 4-for-7 at the plate, stroked three home runs and drove in eight during the sweep.
GAME 1: Navarro 9, BPCC 0 (5 innings)
Worthington launched a one-out, three-run homer to over the scoreboard in centerfield in the bottom of the fourth, and then drilled a two-run, fifth-inning walk-off shot to the same location.
Sophomore right-hander Stephanie Buenrostro earned the pitching victory, throwing a two-hit shutout on 67 pitches and retired 10 consecutive Lady Cavaliers during one stretch.
Buenrostro (13-8, 3.37), who has won three of her last four starts, allowed only a two-out, first-inning single by second baseman Kacey Maines and a fifth-inning leadoff single by centerfielder Micah Gray. Buenrostro did not strike out a batter, but recorded 11 fly ball outs.
Navarro took a 2-0 lead in the second off BPC starter and loser Anna Dies when second baseman Gabby Martinez drilled a two-out, opposite-field single to left that plated Jade Strother and Mia Martinez.
Worthington’s three-run homer on the first pitch from Dies highlighted a five-run Bulldog outburst in the fourth. First baseman Kenzie McGallion added a run-scoring single to right field, and Mia Martinez hoisted a sacrifice fly that delivered Strother.
The walk-off rally began with two out. Centerfielder Anika Barbosa was hit by a 2-0 offering before Worthington stepped up and delivered her 14th home run of the season.
Game 2: Navarro 7, BPCC 5
BPCC battled hard in its final game of the season before Worthington tagged a two-run, sixth-inning homer to left in her final at-bat to provide some padding to Navarro’s precarious 5-4 lead.
Worthington’s 15th homer rocketed over the leftfield fence after Barbosa opened the inning by beating out an infield single from a full-count pitch.
BPCC had taken a 3-2 lead after four innings, thanks to a two-run homer by shortstop Krissy Williams. The Lady Cavaliers’ No. 9 hitter dropped her first home run of the season over the leftfield fence, just beyond Worthington’s leaping grasp.
In its fourth, Navarro quickly responded with three runs. After Jaclyn Kresta’s double to right field and Gabby Martinez’ infield hit, Barbosa slapped her team-high seventh triple of the season. Worthington followed with a RBI single to push the Bulldogs into a 5-3 advantage.
BPCC stranded 10 runners in the game — five during the final three innings — but Bulldogs pitchers Katelyn Cooper, Alexandra Eppinette and Casey Peters wriggled out of threats.
Eppinette replaced Cooper in the fifth after BPCC leadoff hitters Maines and Alex Greer singled. Eppinette gave up a one-out, run-scoring single on a full-count offering to Micah Gray to make 5-4, but the lefthander struck out the side.
Peters entered with two out in the seventh after Greer drew a full-count walk and pinch hitter Kayce Mahan delivered an opposite field single to left on another full-count offering.
Peters walked third baseman Shelby Nicholas to load the bases. Navarro’s freshman lefty yielded a run in exchange for catcher Brett Harvey’s sacrifice fly to right field, and then induced a Williams to line out to Barbosa to end the game.
SATURDAY: Game 2 at Paris — Navarro 9, Paris 3
Navarro salvaged a split of its doubleheader with the Lady Dragons as Anika Barbosa and Mia Martinez each slugged their second home runs of the season.
Barbosa, one of five Bulldogs with two hits in a 13-hit attack, drove in a team-high four runs and hit her first home run since the January 29 season-opening 10-4 win over UH-Victoria at the Island Invitational in Galveston.
Martinez scored a team-high three runs, stole a base and drilled her first home run since February 6 during an 8-0 win over Gulf Coast State at Atmore, Al.
Other two-hit games came from Gabby Martinez, Miranda Worthington, Jade Strother and Jaclyn Kresta.
Buenrostro gave up four hits and struck out five in four inning to secure the pitching victory.
REGION XIV SOFTBALL STANDINGS
End, Regular Season
Tyler 53-2 / 27-1
Angelina 37-18 / 18-10
Navarro 32-18 / 18-10
Paris 36-18 / 17-11
TVCC 26-26 / 13-15
BPCC 21-29 / 9-19
Northeast 18-36 / 7-21
Kilgore 14-37 / 3-25
Galveston 46-10 / 21-3
Blinn 36-16 / 21-4
Lamar-PA 27-25 / 14-10
San Jacinto 32-23 / 14-10
Alvin 15-25 / 7-15
Coastal Bend 10-33 / 5-19
Laredo 2-35 / 1-19