Defense nets Fruita a title
Local Major girls team bound for regionals in Waco
At different points during Monday’s Major Division Little League girls softball state championship, Fruita scampered from base to base as balls rattled around the field at Little Salt Wash Park.
Fruita took advantage of errors — six in total — as it cruised to a 6-2 win over Rawlings (Pueblo) Little League.
The win secured a trip to the regional championship tournament in Waco, Texas, where Fruita will battle for a trip to the Little League Softball World Series in Portland.
Conversely to Rawlings, Fruita played solid defense and limited its errors.
Fruita pitcher Carlie Schafer said that the defense behind her added to her confidence on the mound.
Schafer finished with only two strikeouts, but she held Pueblo to one hit in the final three innings.
“They’re there to back you up, so I was making sure I wasn’t sitting and walking everybody to keep them ready,” Schafer said. “It’s not just me and the catcher, I had to use the whole team. They’re there, so if I throw strikes I know they’ll get people out for me.”
Aryn Montgomery finished 3 for 3 with two runs and paced the Fruita bats from the leadoff spot.
Montgomery led Fruita with five runs during the state tournament.
“We kept each other up and we even brought a cooler of water and spray bottles because it was so hot today,” Montgomery said. “We really wanted to continue to play even though we were tired.
“Us winning hasn’t really sunk in yet. I can’t believe we’re going to Texas. It’s just too exciting.”
Fruita briefly fell behind after surrendering a run in the top of the first inning, but answered with three runs in the bottom half of the frame.
After the first inning, Fruita never trailed.
Unlike the 10-4 victory over Rawlings on Saturday, Fruita didn’t have to battle back from a rough inning.
Coach Sean Schafer said that keeping the squad’s spirit high was integral to securing the title.
“I mean, we’re champions, it feels great,” Schafer said. “And the entire team, I mean every girl in the outfield was hit to, and everyone made plays. Our defense was really outstanding, and that’s what stopped them.”
Fruita 9-10 wins championship
Coach Loren Paulson had the banner tucked in his back pocket, but didn’t whip it out until after the 9-10 Fruita girls softball team had retreated to the dugout.
After Fruita defeated Pueblo 7-6, the entire Fruita squad thought they’d be playing a third game to decide the champion.
But Pueblo had reached the maximum number of innings Emily Abraham could pitch and was already playing with an empty dugout.
So Pueblo forfeited the potential third game, making Fruita the state champion.
“We had a couple innings where they struggled a little bit, but they showed a lot of resilience and worked through it and finished strong,” Paulson said.
Shay Cutshall pitched a complete game for the win. She finished with seven strikeouts.
“I was ready because I thought we’d have to face them one more time,” Cutshall said. “But then I heard the news that they were going home and I started having tears of joy.”