PHOENIX (Tucson News Now) - Ironwood Ridge Softball is back in the Conference 5A state title game.
The Nighthawks (25-9) for the second time in nine days handled the top-seed Arcadia (30-5) with ease. This time a decisive 9-0 crushing at the Rose Mofford Softball Complex in Phoenix that pushed Ironwood Ridge into the state title game for the second time in three seasons.
IRHS beat Glendale Cactus two years ago to win the then-Division II state championship.
Junior pitcher Frankie Lucio was a freshman on that team.
Thursday night she pitched Ironwood Ridge into the final with a three-hit complete-game shutout. Lucio (7-0) struck out eight and walked just one batter.
IRHS busted the game open with a six-run sixth inning. Freshman Emma Almodabo led the way offensively, going 4-for-4 at the plate with three RBI. Morgan Reidhead and Dianna Nesbitt each drove in a pair.
The Titans wanted no part of Nighthawks slugger Isabel Pacho, who entered the game hitting .656. She walked all four times she stepped to the plate.
Ironwood Ridge will await the winner of Friday night's rematch between #3 seed Cienega and 6th seed Peoria Centennial.
The Bobcats (26-6) fell to the Coyotes 2-1 Thursday night at Rose Mofford, suffering their first loss of the tournament.
Friday night's re-match will have a 7:30 p.m. first pitch at the Rose Mofford Complex.
Reigning champion Cienega is trying to win their 4th title since 2010. The Nighthawks are in the championship game for the fifth time since 2008.
If the two teams meet up on Monday night it would be their third square-off this season with each winning once.
Meanwhile in Conference 4A, Freshman Alyssa Aguilar pitched a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 win over top-seed Canyon del Oro to launch a Salpointe Catholic girls team into yet another state title game.
The Lancers will play for the Conference 4A title on Tuesday at ASU's Farrington Stadium at 6:30 p.m. against Glendale Cactus.
The Salpointe Catholic softball teams is the third girls squad from the school this year to play for a state title.
Both the Lancers girls volleyball and soccer teams have already brought home title trophies for the school.
Salpointe Catholic (31-4) lost to Cienega in the 2015 Division II state championship game and will be looking for the program's first softball title since 1996.
Diana Montano and Giselle Munoz drove in runs to back Aguilar's effort.
Both Salpointe Catholic and Glendale Cactus advanced to the final without losing a game in tournament play.