Will of a Wildcat
Reed shuts door on GJ in top of 7th to lift Fruita to win
Lauren Reed threw a drop ball that didn’t drop, and Grand Junction’s No. 9 hitter, Morgan Zanski, lined it to the fence in right field to lead off the seventh inning with a triple.
Reed conceded it was a bad pitch, her mistake, and she’d take the blame if it cost Fruita Monument the game.
Instead, the sophomore kept her composure and retired the next three batters as the Wildcats opened their season Wednesday night with a 3-2 win in a game featuring teams that expect to contend for the Southwestern League softball title.
“That was true heart to get through some of the situations she did,” first-year Fruita coach Eddie Mort said. “We booted some balls, and she stayed with it. That’s a sophomore that’s going to be a good pitcher.”
With the top of the order due up, Zanski scoring to tie the game looked like a foregone conclusion. But Mort kept Fruita third baseman Sheridan Van Hoose back, which paid off when left-handed Bree Baldwin slapped Reed’s first offering right at Van Hoose. Reed then struck out Kylie Burns, recovering from a 2-0 count and getting Burns to chase a high fastball for strike three. The Tigers’ Elisha Jahnke then grounded out to shortstop to end the game.
“Every pitch was right where she needed it. She hit every spot,” Mort said. “She put the team on her shoulders. That was good.”
Reed said she had “all the confidence in the world” in the Wildcats’ defense and pitched accordingly.
“I kept confidence in myself. I just kept going,” she said.
Getting to that point in the seventh required an opportunistic offense as Fruita made the most of five hits.
No. 3 hitter Rachel Skillicorn drew a walk on a full count with two outs in the first inning, and Wildcat cleanup hitter Makenzi DeCrow lined a shot over the left fielder for a double that scored Skillicorn.
Jahnke blanked Fruita on one hit over the next three innings, but the Wildcats’ bats boomed with two outs in the fifth to give Reed the support she needed. Reed, batting ninth, opened the fifth with an infield hit, and two outs later Skillicorn belted a double to the fence in right field, driving in Reed. DeCrow then cracked her second double, dropping the ball down the right-field line to make it 3-1.
Molly Findlay, who drove in Grand Junction’s first run with a single in the fourth, plated its second run with a groundout in the sixth. Otherwise, timely hitting was nonexistent for the Tigers, who left at least one runner on base in every inning aside from the second.
Grand Junction coach Adam Diaz commended the Wildcats for being an excited bunch that played well enough to win. He wished his team, which opened the season with four straight wins, all in SWL games, would have matched that enthusiasm and desire.
Reed’s pitching was more about location than power, and Diaz said the Tigers’ hitters didn’t make the necessary adjustments.
When Zanski led off the seventh with her triple, he said the Tigers had the right hitters awaiting to take advantage: seniors at the top of the order.
“It happens,” Diaz said of the blown opportunity. “We have to learn from it and move on. ...We have to come ready to play every game, every inning, every pitch.”
■ Central 9, Montrose 2: Freshman pitcher Melissa Gellermann had a shutout through six innings, and Central’s offense got going late as the Warriors ran their record to 5-0, all of the wins coming in SWL play.
“It’s just solid defense,” Central coach Scott Else said of his team’s start. “We don’t strike a lot of girls out. We play solid, fundamental defense. We have only three errors in five games.”
Megan Cosslett led Central with three hits, including a sole home run, and Baylea Hice hit a two-run home run. Amanda Etcheverry, Tyler Hays and Taryn Smith each collected two hits for the Warriors.
Rifle tied Basalt for the first place with 230 strokes at the seven-school Delta Invitational, but Basalt won a team playoff for the championship.
Basalt’s three scorers in the playoff combined to shoot 1 under par, while the Bears’ trio was 1 over on the playoff hole at Devil’s Thumb Golf Club.
Ty Caron and Teig Hauer each carded a 74 to tie for second-place individually for Rifle, and Delta’s Keaton Reiher joined them at 74. They were three strokes behind meet medalist Tristan Rohrbaugh of Basalt.
Montrose finished third as a team with 234 strokes, led by Riley Willis with a 75 and Zane Sauer with a 76.
Delta finished fourth with a 238, and Tyler Garcia added a 76 for the host Panthers.