Fruita Major Girls in position to win state title
Fruita Little League is one victory from winning the major girls (ages 11-12) state championship and advancing to the Southwestern League tournament.
All Fruita has to do is beat a team it has already beaten in the state tournament, and it gets two chances to do it. The first opportunity to win the state title will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. If Fruita loses, it will play the same team at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. All games are at Little Salt Wash Park.
Fruita advanced to the championship game, cruising to a 24-2 victory over Academy of Colorado Springs in four innings Sunday morning at the park.
“These kind of ballgames are always tough, but a win is a win,” Fruita manager Josh Zambrano said. “Hats off to them. They came a long way and to go through a game like that, I’m sure was tough for them.”
Fruita scored all 24 of its runs in the first inning, taking advantage of 12 walks and one error. Each Fruita player in the starting lineup had three plate appearances in the inning; two of them had four.
Four runs were scored on bases-loaded walks, but Fruita hit the ball as well. Arianna Zambrano had a pair of two-run singles in the inning and Lauren Reed had a two-run double. Rachel Skillicorn had an RBI double and Morgan Hyde had an RBI single; Regan Wood added a two-run single and Karli Myers had a two-run single.
Academy made three pitching changes in the first inning and four in the game.
But what hurt Academy the most was playing without two players, including its top pitcher. She was competing on a travel team in another tournament.
Those players are expected to join the team at 5:30 p.m. today for its loser’s bracket game against Shaw Heights (Westminster) at Little Salt Wash Park. Fruita defeated Shaw Heights on Saturday evening.
Fruita batters continued to reach base by walk, hit by pitch or base hit in the second and third innings, but they were told to leave base early, which is an automatic out in Little League.
“When the game gets out of hand like that, those girls don’t need to be out in the field for a half-hour, 45 minutes,” Josh Zambrano said. “It’s just good sportsmanship to keep the game going. That’s how we’ve done it throughout the year when a game gets out of hand. They knew exactly what we were doing and they appreciated it.”
Fruita pitchers Hyde and Olivia Bratt combined to strike out 10 Academy batters. Bratt recorded all six outs in her two innings of work by strikeout, including three looking. Hyde and Bratt allowed two runs on four hits.
“At this stage of the ballgame, you’ve got to have pitching,” Zambrano said. “We have three girls who can throw strikes. That’s a beautiful thing at this age level. They keep us in ballgames. Livi (Bratt) threw the ball extremely well this afternoon. Morgan Hyde will keep you in any ballgame.”
All three pitchers will be available to throw Tuesday in the championship game.