Comeback kids: Fruita Major girls hope success follows them to Texas
The Fruita Little League Major girls hope the magic hasn’t run out.
Fruita begins the Southwestern Regional Little League tournament today in Waco, Texas, playing Petroglyph Little League of New Mexico at 5 p.m.
“What a great experience,” Fruita manager Josh Zambrano said. “It’s been a big deal, and they make it a special event.”
Fruita has a talented group of players, but it’s had to work very hard to get to Texas.
Fruita defeated Grand Mesa Little League twice in the District 1 tournament — including a 14-13 championship game win where it overcame a 13-0 deficit.
Fruita also overcame a 7-0 deficit against Shaw Heights in the Colorado state championship game to win 14-13 in eight innings.
Needless to say, Fruita earned its spot in the regional tournament.
“It’s finally sunk in for the kids that we are here,” Zambrano said. “Everyone has just welcomed the girls and it’s been very cool.”
The same hospitality might not be displayed on the field.
Fruita is in one of the toughest regionals in the Little League World Series.
There are two teams from Texas — Washington County Little League of Brenham representing Texas East, and McAllister Park Little League of San Antonio representing Texas West.
Evangeline Little League of New Iberia is the Louisiana representative and Pine Bluff American-Eastern Little League earned its spot out of Arkansas.
“I told them we aren’t going to see the overthrow at first (base), we aren’t going to see the ball go through the shortstop’s legs, and we aren’t going to see dropped balls in the outfield,” Zambrano said. “We have to play our game and if we make a mistake, we have to nip it in the bud, and not let it snowball.”
Fruita’s road to Waco provided it with enough experience to be ready for the Southwestern Regional field of teams.
“As far as pitching, we won’t see anything here we haven’t seen, especially playing Grand Mesa,” Zambrano said. “But the players here are disciplined, and they understand the game.”
If Fruita wins its first game against New Mexico, it will be matched up with Arkansas on Sunday at 5 p.m. Texas West, Texas East and Louisiana are all on the other side of the six-team bracket.
“I like our chances if we show up and play,” Zambrano said. “We have (hotel) reservations through the middle of the week and we want to use them.”
Two other local teams are attending Southwestern Regionals. The Orchard Mesa major boys will be in Waco for its Southwestern Regional Tournament from Aug. 6-12.
The 9-10 Monument boys are attending the 9-10 Southwestern Regional in Blytheville, Ark. on Aug. 7th.
Although, the 10-11 Monument boys lost its state championship on back-to-back losses to North Boulder, it didn’t stop Monument players from being good sports.
Monument pitcher Alex Cox allowed a two-run home run in the fifth inning, then did something that surprised everyone.
After allowing the home run, Cox yelled into the North Boulder dugout to get the attention of the opposing team.
The ball park went silent as Cox simply asked “Do you guys want the home run ball?”
The ball had been returned to the field of play and Cox sought out the player who had just hit a home run off of him to give him the ball.
Cox displayed the spirit of Little League baseball in one gesture.