Delta’s bid for state falls short
BROOMFIELD — For its second season as a Delta High School-only softball program, the Panthers made an amazing turnaround from 2012 to 2013, one that will be remembered as a foundation-building season.
But Saturday’s Class 4A Region 6 tournament at Broomfield High School produced one of the most gut-wrenching games of the season. Needing two victories to move on to the state tournament, Delta watched as Pueblo Central scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh of an elimination game for an 11-10 win.
Having already lost to sixth-seeded Broomfield to open the day, a game in which Delta scored four runs in the top of the first inning only to lose 13-6, the Panthers finished the season 15-6.
“I think we got into a situation where we were playing not to lose, and just playing passively and not aggressive,” Delta coach Steve Reiher said. “We were unsure with the ball instead of coming up and making plays like we had done all day. We got passive, and it hurt us.”
Delta’s bats definitely showed up with the 16 runs produced in such a competitive environment. After staking itself to early leads in both games, Delta failed to expand on those advantages, something that stuck with senior Brianna Music and freshman Megan Sandoval.
“I just wish that some of us would have buckled down and realized that we had a great opportunity and should have (taken) advantage,” Sandoval said. “We played our hearts out, though. A couple mistakes, and it could have been better.”
“I feel like everybody worked hard, but there were things we could have done better, for sure,” Music said. “We should have used that adrenaline we had (against Broomfield) when it came to us playing defense.”
After rallying from 6-3 down against Pueblo Central to forge a 10-6 lead heading to the seventh, the defense simply let down freshman pitcher Lily Lockhart. Twice, the Panthers had plays that could have produced the third out of the inning and the win, and both times those plays went awry.
The winning run came across when Pueblo Central (11-11) beat out an infield hit with the bases loaded.
Kasha Culver had three hits and scored twice in Delta’s first-round loss against the Eagles (14-6), who won the regional championship game 6-4 over 11th-seeded Silver Creek.
Silver Creek (15-7) beat Pueblo Central 11-9 for a berth in the state tournament.
Fruita Monument fought its way back to play for second place in the Region 3 tournament, but Chatfield beat the Wildcats 5-2 to deny Fruita a state berth.
After losing in the first round 9-2 to fifth-seeded Dakota Ridge, the No. 28 Wildcats (12-10) edged Greeley West 8-7.
Dakota Ridge (18-3) won the regional with an 8-2 win over 12th-seeded Chatfield (13-9).
■ Central (12-9) lost both of its games in the Region 2 tournament. Eighth-seeded Brighton beat the No. 25 Warriors 10-0 in the first round, and Chaparral eliminated Central 7-1.
Eaglecrest (19-2) won the regional, with Brighton (20-2) second.
Montrose battled back in its second meeting with Palmer Ridge, but lost 13-12 in the second-qualifier game. The Indians, seeded 16th, were routed by Palmer Ridge 21-1 in three innings in the first round.
Montrose (15-7) earned a second shot at the Bears (15-7) by defeating Mead 10-6.
No. 1 seed Wheat Ridge beat Palmer Ridge 13-3 for the title.
Cedaredge finished second in the Region 1 tournament, losing 16-1 to third-seeded Holy Family, but the Bruins (14-7) claimed a state tournament berth by beating Rocky Ford 4-3.
■ Holy Family (18-2) got to the Region 1 final by eliminating Grand Valley (6-14) 17-1.