GJ falls in state softball
GJ shut out by Dakota Ridge
AURORA — The Grand Junction High School softball team made it a step further than it did last season.
Alas, it was a couple of steps short of where the Tigers wanted their season to end.
Grand Junction lost in Saturday’s opening round of the Class 5A state softball tournament as Dakota Ridge and pitcher Rachelle Foos were too much for the Tigers in a 7-0 Eagles victory.
From the outset, Grand Junction was battling from behind. Foos retired the Tigers in order to start the game.
Then, the Eagles scored three runs, with Baillie Brooks delivering the big blow, a two-run home run that just cleared the fence in left-center.
The Eagles tacked on three more runs in the second.
From there, it was up to the Tigers to figure out Foos, Dakota Ridge’s senior pitcher.
It wasn’t the speed of her pitches that kept the Tigers off balance. Rather, Foos used the corners of the plate well and moved her pitches around effectively.
The Tigers began a rally in the third inning with a pair of two-out singles, but one of Foos’ seven strikeouts ended the threat.
Making it to state was a big accomplishment, according to Grand Junction assistant coach Tad Ritter, who filled in for Tigers head coach Adam Diaz, who had to miss the game because of work obligations.
“I think it was huge for us,” Ritter said. “They talked about it at the start of the season, so that was their goal.”
Ritter praised Foos, who gave up only the two infield hits.
“She kept our hitters guessing the whole time,” he said. “She pitched a phenomenal game against us.”
For the Tigers’ seniors, who saw their bid to make it to the state tournament come up one run short in the regional finals last season, reaching the state tournament achieved an important goal.
“It’s been an honor,” right fielder Madi Marsh said of her four seasons.
She added, “It’s not just a four-year thing,” referring to teammates she has been with going back to youth softball.
After last year’s loss at regionals, “We came in (to this season) harder and ready to go,” she said.
Fellow senior Morgan Zanski echoed Marsh’s sentiments.
“We knew last year we had the potential and just came up short,” Zanski said.
With Friday’s first two rounds of the state tourney postponed because of snow, the Tigers had to do something to stay active. They went to a mall and took in a matinee movie to occupy their time.
“I think it was good for us as a team,” Zanski said. “We could relax.”
As for making it to state, she added, “We’re really proud of ourselves for making it this far.”