The Marana Tiger softball team has been, and will be, feeling the heat, at least until Thursday.
"We're going to sweat," said head coach Dan Collin.
Unlike most of greater Tucson, the Tigers' sweating has nothing to do with summer's impending onset. For a second straight season, the Marana High School softball team is unsure about what its postseason future might be.
The reason – a 4-1 loss to Cholla in the first round of the 4A Sonoran regional tournament on Friday. That loss, coupled with an Arizona Interscholastic Association record of 10-8 and a state power ranking of #14, has left the Tigers, and their playoff aspirations, uncertain.
"We're just going to have to wait for the word," said Collin. "We'll just hope for the best."
Unfortunately for Marana, hoping for the best wasn't enough to overcome Cholla pitcher Monet Ormsby's dominant effort on Saturday. Ormsby was electric for the Chargers, relying on a combination of speed and off-speed pitches to confound Tiger batters.
"(She) has an amazing rise ball," said Marana sophomore Sammie Merriman.
In spite of the respect that Ormsby garnered, Merriman wasn't going to let her earn a shutout. In the top of the seventh, Merriman crushed a towering home run, her fifth of the season, to left field, providing Marana's only score of the day.
"She kept pitching me inside all day," said Merriman. "So I just tried to do what I do in the batting cages and I found it."
"She's just a solid player," said Collin of Merriman. "She's hit quite a few home runs for us this year."
Merriman is one of the "solid" players on a very young Marana team. “We have a lot of sophomores,” said Collin.
That youth showed on Saturday, as one big half inning for Cholla was the difference. The Chargers scored all four of their runs in the bottom of the second inning, batting through their entire lineup in a difficult few minutes for Marana pitcher Courtney Lacaillade, who otherwise was able to hold off Cholla's offensive charge.
"That seems to be what happens to us this season," said Collin. "We play pretty good softball and then one or two bad innings hurt us."
It remains to be seen whether the most recent bad innings will keep Marana out of state competition, but Collin and the Tigers will be ready when or if their number is called.
"We'll be out there practicing," said Collin. "We'll be ready for it."