AJ Softball Scores Wins Over Coronado, Seton Catholic
By Daniel Dullum
Runs were tough to come by for both Chandler Seton Catholic and Apache Junction on March 22 at the AJHS diamond. In the end, the Lady Prospectors came up with a 4-1 4A non-region softball win.
AJ pitcher Mikayla Gilgert didn’t feel she was totally on her game, though she struck out 11 and scattered three hits in seven innings.
“Today, I was just off on my motion,” Gilgert said. “It’s hard to explain. I have to get my entire motion together.
“My four-seam is coming around,” she continued. “Before this season started, I got to play against a new type of hitters, more challenging for me. And I had to adapt to more challenging hitters and I think that’s helped a lot.
“I’m learning to spin the ball harder now, and I want to keep that going and not get lazy at all! It’s hard because I come from club, which is very competitive, and high school isn’t as competitive. So sometimes you get a little lazy, so I want to keep myself up.”
AJ Coach Ed Matlosz addressed the team’s intensity level after the game.
“It was a lack of focus and a lack of intensity,” Matlosz said. “It’s a good thing we had Mouse on the hill to keep a team down like that. Their pitcher (Jessica Kulak) did a great job of hitting her spots, but our intensity level and execution was very poor.”
Gilgert is 7-3 with a 2.86 earned run average – mostly due to a couple of rough outings early in the season. She’s struck out 105 hitters in 80 2/3 innings.
“Mouse has been pitching well,” AJ Coach Ed Matlosz said. “She threw well in the Payson tourney and beat some good teams up there. Coach Hank has been working with her a lot and she’s getting back to where she is. We need here on the hill to beat the better teams.”
Gilgert, Denae Preuhs and Cori Haro each drove in a run. Elexis Toro was 3-for-3, scored twice, and had AJ’s only extra-base hit – a double. Tristan Greer was 2-for-3.
“I feel like we haven’t played the best team on our schedule yet,” Gilgert said. “We’ve been fighting back, but haven’t finished. We start off strong, but we finish weak, or we start out weak and finish strong. We need to balance it out.”
Mikayla Gilgert struck out 11, walked one and gave up one home run in four innings. At the plate, Gilgert hit a three-run home run and drove in four runs total while going 1-for-2.
Denae Preuhs was 2-for-3 with a double and three runs scored, Elexis Toro was 3-for-4 and scored three times, and Zoe Siegel was 2-for-3.
Cori Haro, Ainsley Pape and Priscilla Saldate each collected one hit in the Lady Prospectors’ 16-hit attack.
AJ jumped to a 9-1 lead before blowing the game open with a seven-run fourth inning.
Tristan Greer threw a scoreless fifth inning.
“We try to clear our bench a little bit,” Matlosz said. “(Coronado) kept it close early and we made some baserunning mistakes that we have to clear up. We wanted to get Tristan another inning; she’s been throwing pretty good for us lately too.”
Apache Junction won three and lost two in the annual Gracie Lee Haught Tournament at Payson, March 15-16.
The Lady Prospectors defeated Show Low 6-3, Joseph City 10-0 and Camp Verde 4-3 before losing 13-1 to Benson and 4-3 to Camp Verde.
“Benson wound up winning the whole thing and they’re a legit team. They’re the defending champs at their level, and they could beat most 6A teams,” Matlosz said. “We wanted to walk out of there with no injuries, and give some of the other girls some looks.”
Matlosz felt the Payson tournament helped get the Lady Prospectors ready for region play.
“That’s why we go up there,” he said. “And the girls had a chance to do some bonding. It was fun, we laughed a lot, and had a good time.”
Photo above: Apache Junction’s Megan Clark (21) rounds third base en route to scoring a run for the Lady Prospectors in their 4A non-region softball win on March 20 over Coronado. Coach Ed Matlosz is directing traffic. (Photo by Daniel Dullum)