Hornets get stung in Mesa softball’s eighth straight victory


Carlotta Gonzalez’s team greeted her at second base to celebrate the Olympians’ 5-4 walk-off win. Photo Credit: Clay Fordham/The Mesa Press.

Clay Fordham, Sports Editor

Mesa softball entered Monday’s play on a blistering terror looking to capture their eighth consecutive victory while taking on the very well-versed Fullerton College squad. 

Head coach Jaclyn Guidi summed it up best, when she said, “This [game] was pretty much all or nothing. We ranked twentieth in playoff rankings going into today, and they were ranked number four. This was a huge opportunity for us. I kept telling our team that it’s not about just playing with the best, but you have to beat the best.”

On Feb. 17, the two teams faced off with one another in a competitive matchup that saw the Hornets come out on top 3-2. 

Mesa may have let Fullerton off the hook the fire time around, but they would refuse to be thwarted twice. 

Right fielder Carlotta Gonzalez’s huge day at the plate, in which she collected four of the Olympian’s nine team hits, helped lift her team above the pesky Hornets. The swing that mattered most followed her teammate and designated player Kori Jonilonis who sparked the seventh-inning rally with a two-out single. 

Keeping things simple, Gonzalez shot a single through the right side of the infield where the right fielder couldn’t quite handle the ball cleanly. That prompted Jonilonis to extend the base hit into a little first-to-third action on the basepaths. In a wild sequence of events, the right fielder relayed the ball to her cutoff, and then the shortstop fired the ball to third base. 

Except that throw came up about 10 feet short of her target in which she couldn’t knock it down. Jonilonis flipped it into third gear and sprinted for home as it was all too late for the Hornets. Mesa had defeated Fullerton by a final of 5-4.

Gonzalez wasn’t going to be fooled and knew what she was looking for, she said, “I was leaving anything up, so she couldn’t steal any strikes from me. I was looking for anything that was down and maybe a little inside.” In the end, she was happy to play her part, as she continued, “I’m so proud of my team, and I just want to do anything I can to help them out.”

The cherry on top was capping off the victory in walk-off fashion. No one could’ve predicted that!

Except, perhaps it could’ve been foreseen – at least in coach Guidi’s eyes. She said, “I told someone to make sure the recording was still going on because I knew it was going to happen.” 

Gonzalez played the role of the unsuspecting hero as her status for the game was unknown throughout warmups. Coach Guidi elaborated further when she said, “Her lab [class] ran a little late, and she’s a good student,” Gonzalez blushed as this was mentioned. Guidi continued, “She showed up at 1:59 p.m. (for a 2 p.m. start time), put on her jersey, didn’t even have her belt on, and we threw her right field to start.”

No warmups clearly didn’t have an impact on Gonzalez’s performance.

The Olympians fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning, but they responded in the bottom half of the second inning with a pair of RBI singles courtesy of left fielder Hallee Sweiss and Gonzalez to even the score.

In the bottom of the third, first baseman Jolene Giles sliced a two-out, RBI triple down the left field line that barely evaded the outstretched left fielder. Shortly after, a couple of defensive miscues from Mesa allowed the Hornets to grab a 4-3 lead in the top of the fourth. 

Gonzalez’s third hit of the day in the bottom of the fifth was driven off the bottom of the left-center field wall to bring home the tying run.

Starting pitcher Arianna Izaguirre was relieved after surrendering a one-out triple in the top of the seventh. Bailey Oftedahl was then called upon to extinguish the threat.

She immediately picked up a huge strikeout for the second out of the inning. Following the big strikeout, she executed a good pitch that the next batter rolled over to first base for the third out. 

Oftedahl picked up on Izaguirre’s stellar performance, 6.1 innings pitched, which set the stage for the Mesa’s offense to go to work.

In a game that featured a lot of back-and-forth chirping, Izaguirre praised her team’s composure when she said, “I’m glad that we were able to stay humble as a team and not let anything get to us.”

As mentioned earlier by coach Guidi, this win goes a long way in dictating their playoff rankings. Mesa looks to wrap up their regular season here shortly as they have now given themselves the chance to control their own destiny.