Senior southpaw Kade Peterson closed out his final year on the Wickenburg High School baseball team last week, pitching a complete seven-inning game in a 4-1 loss to visiting Chino Valley. He finished his season with a 5-2 record on the mound and a 2.28 earned run average while also leading the team in hitting with a .358 batting average.
That might be a good description of Wickenburg High School baseball coach Gary Hodgkiss’ mood after his Wranglers finished the season with a 4-1 loss to visiting Chino Valley last week.
It wasn’t only because the Wranglers lost their final two games and were denied a chance to compete in the 3A Conference state playoffs; it also was due to his saying goodbye to his eight seniors.
“We needed to win those last two games (to get into the playoffs),” he grudgingly admitted, “but now it’s going to be hard to do this.”
It was senior night on Joe Kenrick Field, and the seventh-year baseball coach was about to introduce his seniors and their parents to the fans in attendance after the final game of the season.
Coach Hodgkiss, who had coached the Wranglers for four years between 2010 and 2013 before stepping aside to become the school’s athletic director, got back in the coaching box the past three seasons. He said at the beginning of this season that he would be disappointed if his Wranglers didn’t qualify for the state playoffs. They came up two losses and three positions short in the conference rankings.
They Wranglers finished the 3A West Region competition with a 5-5 record and capped the season with an 8-10 mark, and they needed to finish the regular season ranked No. 24 or better to make the playoffs. After a slow start, they climbed up to No. 25 but eventually slipped two more slots after the final two losses— finishing in the No. 27 position.
The seniors who played their final game for the Wranglers were catcher Tate Grote, second baseman Jeorge Hershkowitz, third baseman/pitcher Kegan Lindsay, outfielder/pitcher Henry Marquez, pitcher/outfielder Michael Mindnich, outfielder Oscar Navarrete, pitcher/outfielder Kade Peterson, and first baseman Will Solper.
Peterson pitched a complete game in the loss to Chino Valley, finishing with a 5-2 record on the mound this season and an impressive 2.28 earned run average. He struck out five Cougars and walked none.
The Wranglers’ offense, however, was almost non-existent. Grote and Hershkowitz recorded the team’s meager two hits (both infield singles in the second inning). Meanwhile, the Wranglers struck out 14 times against two Chino Valley pitchers and committed four errors defensively.
That loss followed a 3-1 loss to region champion Kingman the previous week.
Pitching was the highlight of the season, with the team earned run average staying below three runs per game at 2.90. However, team hitting was only a .239 average and the defense averaged three errors per game.
Tough ending for Lady Wranglers
Losing their 10th game in their last 11 outings, the Lady Wranglers’ softball team ended its season last week with a 26-6 loss to host Chino Valley and finished the year winless in its 10 3A West Region games.
Freshman catcher Clare Peterson and senior pitcher/outfielder Alex Gill accounted for four of the team’s six hits (both triples) in the finale. Not surprisingly, they ended up as the top two hitters on the team this season. Gill produced an amazing .621 batting average (41 hits in 66 at-bats with three home runs) over the Lady Wranglers’ 22 games, while Peterson capped the season with a .493 average (33 hits in 67 at-bats with one home run).
Two others who contributed to the Lady Wranglers’ offense that produced an average of more than seven runs per game included senior shortstop Cambri Maben with her .367 average and junior pitcher/third baseman Jeri Rainey with her .354 average.
The Lady Wranglers ended the season with a 9-13 record after an 8-3 start and ended up ranked at No. 28 among the 40 teams in the 3A Conference.