Kenzi DeCrow helps lift Fruita Monument past ThunderRidge in tourney

Kenzi DeCrow helps lift Fruita Monument past ThunderRidge in tourney

Fruita Monument’s Mallory Paulson hits an RBI double Saturday during the second inning of the Wildcats’ victory over Prairie View during the Deke DeCrow Memorial Tournament at Kronkright Softball Complex.



Fruita Monument pitcher Jennifer Sneddon delivers Saturday during the Wildcats’ victory over Prairie View during the Deke DeCrow Memorial Tournament.



QUICKREAD



The Peach Fuzz Softball Tournament became the Deke DeCrow Memorial Tournament, and Kenzi DeCrow topped the honors Saturday with a grand slam.

The tournament that featured the four Grand Valley high schools and numerous Denver-area schools was renamed for Deke DeCrow, an assistant coach at Palisade High School for two seasons. DeCrow died last November in car accident. He was 31.

Fruita Monument junior Kenzi DeCrow, a niece of Deke DeCrow, hit four home runs in three games during the tournament, including two home runs in Fruita’s 8-5 win over ThunderRidge and a grand slam in the Wildcats’ 11-1 victory over Prairie View at Kronkright Softball Complex.

Kenzi DeCrow has seven home runs this season, including one in each of the past four games.

Kenzi said her softball success has been influenced primarily by her uncle, Deke DeCrow.

“The big thing I took from him is take one pitch, one at-bat, one play, step by step and don’t try to do too much,” Kenzi said. “Pretty much all my hitting credit goes to him for teaching me everything.”

Kenzi said she was emotional Friday night after numerous players who had been coached by Deke DeCrow released balloons at Bergman Field.

The emotions peaked with Kenzi’s fourth-inning grand slam against Prairie View.

“Deke told her to play with a passion, and she has that passion to go to the next level,” said Jeff DeCrow, Deke’s brother. “He also told her to play this game like it’s your last game and play it hard.”

Jenni Sneddon closed Fruita’s win against ThunderRidge and tossed a complete game against Prairie View.

Last season, Fruita lost to Legacy, the eventual Class 5A state champion, in the state quarterfinals.

“It’s exciting just to have so many new players and be able to start fresh,” Sneddon said.

Fruita (6-1, 4-0 Southwestern League) went 2-1 in the tournament.

CENTRAL

Central coach Scott Else said the Warriors have quality hitters throughout their lineup, as well as a defense already honed from exceptional summer league coaches.

It all helped translate to Central winning a pair of Saturday games — a 6-5 win over Heritage and a 12-2 victory over Palisade.

With two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the seventh against Heritage, Breanna Garcia hit a walk-off double that scored Tyler Hays.

In the win over Palisade, Central’s Amber Walters hit a three-run home run in the first inning.

Catcher Jordan Eller was a combined 5 for 7 in the games for the Warriors.

“Heritage is tough, but when we were down we came right back,” Eller said. “And we got key hits.”

And the defense, Else said, has been solid all season.

“We just have a lot of good summer coaches, so in high school we don’t have to go through fundamentals, and that helps,” Else said.

GRAND JUNCTION

The Tigers went 2-1 in the tournament, and on Saturday defeated Mountain Range 15-5 and Prairie View 10-3.

The Tigers’ Arrianna Diaz hit a home run against Prairie View.

Tigers coach Adam Diaz has been Grand Junction’s head coach the past four seasons and has been with the program since 1998. “And this is the best tournament we’ve had as far as competition,” Diaz said.

Diaz and Central coach Scott Else said they asked their respective athletic directors, as well as District 51 Athletic Director Paul Cain, to bring in more competition. The new competition included Class 5A schools Mountain Range, ThunderRidge, Heritage and Class 4A Prairie View.

“And they did (bring competition),” Diaz said. “You’ve got to love it.”

Elisha Jahnke pitched seven innings against Prairie View and struck out five.

She said many of the Tigers players have played together since they were 8-year-old Little Leaguers.

“When we’re on a roll,” Jahnke said, “no one can beat us.”

Grand Junction is 6-1 and has not played an SWL game.

PALISADE

Palisade lost 13-7 to Heritage and 12-2 to Central, but the Bulldogs’ leading hitters Angela Gordon, Katie Rupe and Sierra Clark are locked on and are giving Palisade promise. Gordon is Palisade’s No. 1 hitter.

“We’re pitching well. We’ve just had a few defensive mishaps,” Palisade coach Nicole Zuniga said. “We’ve just had those one or two bad innings.”


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