Poston Butte’s Lopez Still Dominating Opponents in “New Season”

6 months ago Andrew Luberda 0

Poston Butte junior pitcher Lindsay Lopez’ last two starts weren’t the first dominating performances in her high school career, just the most recent.

Lopez, who was recently named the 5A Sonoran Region Co-Offensive Player of the Year, pitched consecutive complete-game shutouts against Williams Field (4 – 0) and Campo Verde (2 – 0) on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively. The former to secure the No. 15-seeded Broncos a berth in the 2018 5A Softball State Championship, and the latter to advance them to the tournament’s double-elimination round against No. 7 Verrado on Tuesday, May 1.

“It’s a whole new season and every day she can go 1 – 0,” Poston Butte head coach Jeff Stolze said following Lopez’ two-hit, 12-strikeout, no-walks performance in the Apr. 25 play-in game victory over the Black Hawks.

Lopez fanned eight-straight Black Hawks batters during one stretch in that game, including three-straight in an inning on just nine pitches – an immaculate inning, literally.

“She was ready,” Stolze said of his ace. “This is her time of the year, she showed up when she needed to, and I couldn’t have asked for more. She was on point for the first three, four innings. She didn’t have the exact location in the later innings, but she was still very, very effective.”

Lindsay Lopez. (Andrew Luberda)

The left-handed throwing and hitting Lopez helped her own cause at the plate, going 3-for-3 and scoring the game’s first run in the fifth. She scored from second when batterymate, and 5A Sonoran Region Tri-Defensive Player of the Year, Skyler Jenkins reached on an error.

“I just knew that in the playoffs you just have to attack the zone and the first pitch you see in there could be the only one you can hit,” Lopez said about her three-hit day. “Once you see it you just have to (attack) it.”

The Broncos added to their lead in the sixth, starting with Jackie Hernandez’ two-out, two-RBI double. After Lopez was intentionally walked, Jenkins doubled off the center-field wall to score the game’s final run.

“I felt like I had a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders,” Lopez said about going out to the circle in the seventh inning to protect a four-run lead instead of just a one-run advantage. “All I had to do was go in there and pitch my best game.”

Last Wednesday was Lopez’ second dominant outing against Williams Field this season. She pitched a 10-inning complete game in the Broncos 4 – 1 victory on Feb. 27, when she allowed an unearned run on eight hits with 20 strikeouts. She also pitched a nine-inning complete-game shutout against Sabino on Mar. 12, a 3 – 0 Broncos win in which she surrendered four hits and fanned 14. There was the mercy-rule shortened no-hitter versus Pueblo on Mar. 5 in addition to a 4-and-2/3 IP no-hit relief appearance with seven strikeouts against Cholla on Mar. 12.

Poston Butte infielders meet with Lopez before the start of an inning during last Wednesday’s win. (Andrew Luberda)

After the win against the Black Hawks, Stolze said his team needed to display better situational hitting to continue its success during the playoff run. It’s been a problem at times during the season, according to the Broncos head coach.

The Broncos struck first in Saturday’s first-round 2 – 0 upset victory over No. 2 Campo Verde, scoring both runs in the third inning.

Hernandez, a senior, drove in Lopez, who had walked previously, with a double. Hernandez later scored on a double by junior Cheyenne Rolles.

The two runs were enough for Lopez, who limited the Coyotes to only three hits while whiffing 10 without issuing a walk.

“I’m very confident in our team,” Lopez said. “I think we have the talent and we’re learning how to fight, and that’s what we need to have to get wins.”

With Lopez in the circle, the Broncos have more than a fighting chance to get the biggest win of the year in about two weeks at Arizona State’s Farrington Stadium, this year’s venue for the 5A Softball Championship Game.