Aggressive Grand Mesa runs off with district championship

Grand Mesa catcher Sierra Dunham tags out Orchard Mesa’s Cassidy Richardson during a rundown Tuesday in Grand Mesa’s 12-2 victory in the 9-10 girls championship game at Orchard Mesa Little League.

For the Grand Mesa 9-10 Little League girls fastpitch softball team, the goal is to get on base by any means. Then, it’s off to the races.

Whether it was a straight-up steal, wild pitch or passed ball, Grand Mesa seized every opportunity for an extra base Tuesday night, and that included home plate. When the dust settled at the Orchard Mesa Little League diamonds, that added up to a 12-2 win over Orchard Mesa, the District 1 championship and a berth in next week’s state tournament.

Several hits sparked a five-run first inning for Grand Mesa, but its four runs in the second and three in the third were mostly the result of walks, hit batsmen, errors and aggressively running the bases.

“If we got on, we were going to push it,” Grand Mesa manager Kristi Courter said. “We have a lot of speed.”

Grand Mesa also ended the game early. Pitcher Kelty Key kept Orchard Mesa off the scoreboard in the top of the fourth, allowing the run rule to conclude the contest.

Courter sang Key’s praises after the game, saying, “She’s been our rock as a pitcher.”

And that comes as no surprise to Courter, who added, “I know personally she worked all winter long (on her pitching).”

Key had a hand in all three of Grand Mesa’s district tourney wins, striking out five of the first seven batters she faced before sitting down in a 27-0 first-round win over Fruita.

In Grand Mesa’s second game, Key entered the contest in relief in the third inning with Grand Mesa trailing by five runs. She stopped Orchard Mesa’s momentum, and Grand Mesa rallied for a 15-10 win, forcing Orchard Mesa to go through the elimination bracket to get to the title game.

In the return engagement, Key limited Orchard Mesa to a run in the second and another in the third. When she got into a little trouble in the second inning, her defense had her back. Third baseman Ashleigh Satterfield snared a line drive and tagged the runner who had stepped off the bag for an inning-ending double play.

“For 9- and 10-year-olds, they play with a lot of composure,” said Courter, whose all-star team drew players from six Grand Mesa Little League teams.

Grand Mesa will begin play in the state tournament July 19 in Denver.

“And if we play the way we’re capable, we can be in the state championship,” Courter said.

■ In other District 1 Little League tournaments Tuesday:

Major Boys: In Glenwood Springs, Durango beat Fruita 13-9 in an elimination game, advancing to today’s 5:30 p.m. title game at Sopris Field against Monument, which has not lost in the double-elimination tourney.

11-year-old Boys: Fruita stayed alive with a 3-2 win over Montrose and earned a spot opposite Monument for the title tonight, 7 p.m. at the Monument Little League fields. Monument beat Fruita 14-4 in the second round and is the only unbeaten team left in the double-elimination tourney.

Junior Boys: Grand Mesa beat Durango 8-5 in an elimination game for its fourth win in a row after losing in the first round. It now gets Three Rivers in the championship game today 5:30 p.m. at Deerfield Park in Rifle. Grand Mesa needs to beat Three Rivers twice for the title.

9-10 B Boys: Montrose outslugged Three Rivers No. 2, 25-14, to reach today’s championship game, 5:30 p.m., against Monument at the Fruita Little League fields. Monument beat Montrose 18-2 in the third round, meaning Montrose has to win twice for the title.

9-10 A Boys: Grand Mesa edged Montrose 10-9 in nine innings and next faces Fruita, an 11-1 winner over Durango, today in another elimination game.


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