Fruita earns first banner following fire
After the fire that burned down a shed full of Fruita Little League equipment, there are physical items that can be replaced.
Balls, helmets and umpire gear are all immediately replaceable.
But the fire that torched a measurable amount of equipment also destroyed an immeasurable amount of history.
Nearly 40 years worth of championship banners from various tournaments were lost.
On Tuesday, Fruita Little League added its first new championship banner when Fruita’s Major Division (11- and 12-year-olds) softball team secured the District 1 title with a 15-11 victory over Grand Mesa.
“There was a lot of history in that little shed back there. Years and years,” Fruita coach Sean Schafer said. “To start a new pile of banners, especially with this group of girls, it feels good.”
Schafer has been around this group in various capacities for four years, and said the emotional significance for Fruita Little League is matched by what Schafer thinks is a “true team.”
“There’s no ill will, and they’re a team that plays completely together,” Schafer said.
It was that togetherness that allowed Fruita pitcher Kalifornia Kisselburgh to find consistency in a game that had been a back-and-forth slugfest.
In the first four innings the two squads combined for 22 runs before Fruita — leading 13-9 — held Grand Mesa scoreless in the bottom of the fourth inning.
After trading runs heading into the bottom of the sixth, Kisselburgh sat down the back end of the Grand Mesa order, and ended the championship game on a strikeout.
Kisselburgh finished with five strikeouts, notching three in the final two innings.
“Well, God gave me the strength to just work the game,” Kisselburgh said. “The championship is awesome. It feels great, and I’m just speechless. We have a great team, and all of these girls are amazing.”
Every Fruita batter reached base at least once, and all but one recorded a hit. Despite going hitless, Alexis Schafer was one of three Fruita players that notched three runs.
Fruita Little League will now host the Colorado Majors State Championship and play for a chance to advance to the regional.
The regional champion advances to play in the nationally televised Little League Softball World Series.
Dates and game times for the state tournament remain to be set.
In District 1 Little League baseball tournaments Tuesday:
9-10 Boys: Fruita 2 beat Grand Mesa 18-7 to advance to a 5:30 p.m. elimination game today against Fruita at the Orchard Mesa Little League fields.
10-11 Boys: Three Rivers eliminated Grand Mesa 7-0 and will play Delta today at 6 p.m., with the winner advancing to a championship game Thursday against Monument at 6 p.m. at the Monument Little League field.
Major Boys: Grand Mesa defeated Three Rivers 12-6 in an elimination game and will play Monument today in a championship game, 8 p.m. at the Grand Mesa Little League fields.
Intermediate Boys: Monument forced a second game for the championship with a 17-1 win over Delta. The two will play at 5 p.m. today at the Fruita Little League field. Tuesday’s win also avenged a first-round loss, 4-3, to Delta on Saturday.
Junior Boys: CRV avenged a 24-2 loss to Three Rivers on Saturday by eliminating Three Rivers with a 9-3 win Tuesday. The victory put CRV in a championship game at 7 p.m. today against Grand Mesa in Rifle.
In other District 1 Little League softball tournaments Tuesday:
9-10 Girls: Grand Mesa defeated Fruita 12-2 to force a second game between them for the championship at 7 p.m. tonight at the Grand Mesa Little League fields.
10-11 Girls: Orchard Mesa defeated Plateau Valley 17-16 to claim the championship.
Junior Girls: In first-round games, Orchard Mesa edged Delta 8-7, while CRV beat Grand Mesa 22-12. Orchard Mesa and CRV will play in a semifinal at 8 p.m. today at the Orchard Mesa Little League fields, while Delta and Grand Mesa will meet in an elimination game at 5:30 p.m.
Note to coaches
Little League coaches from the winning teams, please call The Daily Sentinel sports line, 256-4203, with your score and highlights after your games.