Grand Mesa forces 3rd title game in Major Girls
Kelty Key is never fazed.
Bases loaded with no outs? The Grand Mesa pitcher keeps throwing her best pitches and trusting in her defense.
And that went a long way Tuesday toward Grand Mesa defeating Fruita 7-2, avenging a loss two days earlier and forcing a third game between the two teams at 5 p.m. tonight for the Major Girls Little League District 1 title.
The deciding game will be played at the Orchard Mesa Little League complex.
The bases-loaded scenario materialized in the second inning as Fruita appeared poised to respond to the three runs Grand Mesa scored in the bottom of the first. A popout, a strikeout and a ground ball to third base later, Key and her teammates returned to the dugout with their 3-0 lead intact.
Grand Mesa extended the lead to 5-0 after four innings, then watched Key keep her composure in the top of the fifth when Fruita got a two-out rally going with a single and two errors. Fruita got a run, but with runners on first and second, Key fielded a comebacker to the mound and threw out the batter to end the rally.
Similarly in the sixth, Fruita seized on a walk and an error and a two-out single for a run, but after Grand Mesa coach Kristi Courter visited the mound, Key struck out the next batter to end the game.
“She’s money,” Courter said. “That’s how she is on the mound.”
Grand Mesa made amends Tuesday for a poor game Sunday in which Fruita battered Grand Mesa 10-3. Courter didn’t recognize her team that day and said she challenged her players to redeem themselves.
“She got really angry at us in practice,” Key said, adding she and her teammates deserved it. “We needed to hit better and field better. We looked terrible out in the field. I did really bad, too, made bad decisions on the bases and bad hitting.”
The bats revived Tuesday, led by leadoff hitter Jaeda Coppers, who went 4 for 4 and stole eight bases, and cleanup hitter Sierra Dunham, who had three hits and two RBI.
“Sierra Dunham, she’s been carrying us with her hitting,” Courter said.
In the field, Shaelyn Grant moved from third base to center field, and, “She caught everything,” Courter said. “That’s why we put her there. That’s where they beat us in the first game, hits to the outfield.”
In other District 1 tourneys Tuesday:
Junior Boys: Grand Mesa defeated Three Rivers 9-6. Delta beat Colorado River Valley 17-7 in an elimination game.
Major Boys: Three Rivers beat Colorado River Valley 22-2. Monument edged Grand Mesa 13-11 in an elimination game.
10/11 Boys: Monument defeated Three Rivers 9-0 to win the district title and advance to the state tourney, which starts July 17 in Arapahoe.
9/10 Boys: Colorado River Valley won 20-5 over Fruita 2. Grand Mesa beat Three Rivers 14-8 in an elimination game.
Junior Girls: Orchard Mesa defeated Three Rivers 27-17 in an elimination game.