Fruita Major girls rally past Orchard Mesa in last at-bat

With Cottonwood cotton falling around her, Fruita’s Olivia Bratt pitches Tuesday in her team’s 4-3 victory over Orchard Mesa in the major girls Little League tournament in Fruita.

Things didn’t look good for the Fruita Major girls Tuesday.

Heading into its final at-bat in the opening game of the District 1 Little League tournament, the team trailed 3-0 and had only one hit.

“I think we were all nervous, but the last inning we really needed to work together,” Fruita second baseman Kelli DeCrow said.

Instead of folding, DeCrow and her teammates took advantage of a tiring Orchard Mesa pitcher to score four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to rally for a 4-3 victory.

“We knew they weren’t going to give up,” Orchard Mesa coach Rich Gellermann said. “We let them get a runner, made a couple of mistakes.”

Fruita struggled for most of the game against Orchard Mesa’s Haley Hotto, who had 12 strikeouts and allowed only one hit in the first five innings.

Heading into the sixth, Fruita coach Ron Reed told his team winning was simply a matter of getting runners on base.

“I just said ‘You know girls, we’re going to have to get on base to win. Olivia (Bratt) pitched a good game, we’re going to have to score somehow, and the only way you can score is get on base, no matter how you do it,’ ” he said.

Hutto’s control issues in the sixth help Fruita get those base runners as the first three batters all walked.

A single by shortstop ShaRae Dorscher scored Shania Marchun. DeCrow tied the game with a two-run triple.

“I just looked for the pitch right down the middle and drove it,” DeCrow said.

DeCrow scored on a single on the next play by Bratt.

Gellermann said Hotto’s struggles were simply fatigue and he was proud of how she pitched.

“She dominated. It was three up, three down (every inning,)” he said. “It wasn’t her loss, it was the team’s loss.”

Bratt pitched a complete game for Fruita, striking out 10, but the defense around her struggled early in the game.

In the third inning, Fruita catcher Hannah Thornburg tried picking Lily Lockhart off third base, but her throw was high, allowing Lockhart to score.

In the fifth, Orchard Mesa’s Shelby Ledesma scored after Lockhart hit a ball to Dorscher at shortstop, who threw it over the head of Reed at first base. Ledesama rounded third and Reed’s throw to home plate went high, allowing Lockhart to make it to third, and later score as part of a double steal.

Fruita plays Grand Mesa today at 5:30 p.m. Orchard Mesa will play the loser of today’s game Thursday at 5:30 p.m.


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