Mt. Ridge softball making positive strides

March 18, 2023 by Jose Garcia, AZPreps365

Despite dressing only one senior, Mountain Ridge went 5-1 in the West Valley Softball Invitational. (Jose Garcia/azpreps365)

Mountain Ridge lost but gained something.

In need of experience, the West Valley Softball Invitational supplied plenty of that and a trophy for the young Mountain Lions. The Glendale program went 5-1 in the second annual 42-team event run by Tolleson High.

The Arcadia Apaches of California won the tournament’s big school bracket after upending Mountain Ridge 10-4 in the championship game. Despite the loss and 6-7 record, the Mountain Lions are making positive strides.

“We’re learning,” Mountain Ridge veteran coach Kent Decker said. “We’ve been moving girls around. We learned a lot this weekend. I’m proud of them. ”

In the semifinals, Arcadia also scored 10 runs against another Arizona team, Tolleson.

Pitcher Makayla Lara's Tolleson team reached the semifinals of the tournament her school hosts. Jose Garcia/azpreps365

Mountain Ridge hung in against a formidable opponent. Trailing 6-3 and 7-4 in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, the Mountain Lions had the tying run at the plate in each inning.

But a diving catch in shallow right field by Tiara Westbrook and pitcher Sophia Herrera's performance in the cirlce (14 K’s, 2 wins on Saturday) helped halt potential rallies. Mountain Ridge’s only senior, leadoff hitter Payton Smith, and junior Courtney Lake each collected two hits Saturday.

“We do have a lot of young players,” Lake said. “So being a senior I’m trying to show them experience and help them out.”


Jaff Decker, a former Major League first round draft pick out of Sunrise Mountain and Padres, Pirates, Rays and Athletics player, is assisting his dad, Kent, at Mountain Ridge.

“I enjoy coaching softball and helping out my dad,” Jaff said.