No. 1 Eastmark shuts out Arizona College Prep

March 29, 2024 by Ben Stapley, AZPreps365

Eastmark runner Sami Parisi prepares to leave third base as Arizona College Prep's Liliana Gagnon delivers a pitch. Photo By Ben Stapley

The Eastmark softball program has quietly evolved into one of the Valley's best.

The Firebirds notched their 16th win of the season Thursday night with a 2-0 victory over fifth ranked Arizona College Prep in a 4A East Sky contest at Eastmark.

Sophomore pitcher Lexi Mendez threw a complete game shutout for Eastmark while striking out nine batters, and giving her 119 strikeouts on the season.

Bella Gomez drove in two runs in the bottom of the first inning for Eastmark, providing the game’s only scoring, but it was enough for the Firebirds. Tayler McCombs went 2-for-2 for Eastmark and scored a run. Sami Parisi scored the other run.

“It was nice to get runs early, but after that it was a pitchers duel and I thought Lexi did a nice job,” Eastmark coach Darryl Allen said.

“I thought our defense played really well behind her, and (Lexi) did a really nice job of getting strikeouts when she needed and pitching contact when she had to.”

The Knights (11-9) have faced a stiff schedule this season, with six of their nine losses coming to 6A schools. They never backed down Thursday. 
ACP made a threat in the top of the sixth inning after Julia Sherman hit a sharp line drive to deep left field for a double. The next batter, Shelby O’Donnal, hit a light single that dropped in front of left fielder Joanna Diaz. Sherman rounded third base in an attempt to score for ACP, but was thrown out at the plate by Diaz. 
Mendez got out of the inning without damage as the shutout was preserved, along with her 0.75 ERA.

ACP sophomore Liliana Gagnon also went the distance for the Knights striking out four batters and pitching her way out of trouble in several later innings. The Firebirds loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning before Gagnon forced a pop-out to end the threat.

Gagnon also doubled during the game, as ACP was held to four base hits.

Coach Allen started the Eastmark program from scratch five years ago as the school opened. Last season he led the Firebirds to 22 wins, which included a 10-0 record in region play. The Firebirds fell early in the playoffs.

"We've had some success even though we've been realy young until this year," Allen said Thursday. "We're still relatively young, but we've got some good senior leadership, so hopefully that will lead to more playoff success."

Eastmark (16-3) will travel to ACP next Tuesday.