Alanie Ornelas delivers a pitch in a conference game against Yavapai College on Feb. 11, 2023. (Photo by Dylan DeVlieger)

Mesa Community College eyes their first Region I postseason since 2019

The Mesa Community College softball team looks to make a push to their first postseason appearance since the 2019 season.

The Lady T-Birds have made a dramatic improvement from last year’s 11-33 season, as they have gone 23-19 overall and 17-19 against conference competition this season.

MCC have had their fair share of tightly contested games this year, as eight of their 19 losses were by three or fewer runs. 

On the other side, seven of the team’s 23 wins have been by the same margin. 

For head coach Grady Moorhead, he finds encouragement in staying competitive, though the frustration of not being able to seal the deal is also there.

“There’s two sides to it, you’re always frustrated especially when you lose and it’s close and it just came down to a couple of plays that didn’t go your way,” said Moorhead, “it’s encouraging also that you’re in those games that are competitive and you give yourself chances to win games.”

The Lady T-Birds have been able to compete with each team they have faced, as they have not lost both games of a doubleheader matchup by more than five runs all season. 

The team has even gone toe-to-toe with two of the top six teams in the country in South Mountain Community College and Phoenix College.

Against SMCC, who is ranked No. 3 in the country, the Lady T-Birds have gone 1-3.

MCC has 12 games left in their 2023 season, eight of which will be played on their home field. 

This may be extremely beneficial for the Lady T-Birds, who have gone 16-8 so far this season at home. 

Offensively, the team has been more successful on their home dirt as they average 9.25 runs per game at home, versus 6.11 runs on the road. 

To Moorhead, being at home is a welcomed sign for him and his team, who currently are battling some injuries.

“It feels good to have that stretch behind us where we had a lot of tough road games out of the way, in the closing stretch it’s always nice to be home, having your own training staff especially with us dealing with the injury bug right now,” said Moorhead,  “It’s always nice to stay at home, stay in your own routine and our players are comfortable here.”

Down the stretch MCC will play six teams who they’ve already met once this year. Overall against these opponents the Lady T-Birds have gone 5-5 on the year.

For Moorhead and the team, an important part of finishing the regular season strong will be continuing to play solid defense and keep the errors to a minimum. 

The team has committed the third least errors in the conference with 53.

“When we’ve been good it’s been when we’re not making errors, when we’ve made three or two less errors in a game most of our wins have been in that variety. We need to have quality at bats, we need to score runs, but I think for our team we have to make the pitches at the right times. We have to play clean defense and we can’t give teams extra outs,” said Moorhead.

Currently as the standings sit, MCC would control the No. 3 seed and would face the No. 2 seed Phoenix College in the regionals if the postseason were to begin right now. 

MCC can control their own destiny and maintain their seeding as Chandler-Gilbert Community College controls the No. 4 seed, but are two games back in the win column and four games back in the loss column. 

As long as MCC keeps playing their brand of softball, they will hang on to the No. 3 seed.

Down the stretch though, it may be tempting to scoreboard watch and see how other teams in the hunt are doing. For Moorhead though, the focus of each day is on what he and his team can control, and that is the way they play the game.

“It’s tough not to look as a coach, I’m always gonna be looking a little bit but I’m trying not to have that impact on the decisions we’re making on a daily basis,” said Moorhead, “we just try to win every inning, try to do our best to put ourselves in the best position to be successful and what other teams are doing doesn’t matter to us.”

MCC has a busy week this coming week as they will take on Phoenix College, Pima Community College, and Gateway Community College. 

Regional play begins on Friday, May 12.


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