Fruita’s Paulson fans twelve, homers in win
Mallory Paulson showed why she is one of the up-and-coming softball players in the Grand Valley.
The Fruita Monument freshman struck out 12 batters and hit a home run Saturday in Fruita’s 9-0 win over Thomas Jefferson at the Peach Fuzz tournament.
“I was a little nervous at first but came out and did what I had to do,” Paulson said. “I think I played well and my change-up looked good.”
Paulson’s off-speed pitches kept the Spartans off the board when it counted. In the second and third innings, Paulson struck out the final batter of the inning, leaving runners on second and third.
“Mallory threw a great game,” Fruita Monument coach Jamie Dunn said. “She handled some difficult situations, and did really well.”
Paulson said she was told she was starting right before the game, which helped her stay focused.
“If (Dunn) had told me a couple of days ago I would have been starting, I know I would have been a nervous wreck,” Paulson said. “I wanted to throw hard and get strikeouts, but I knew
it wasn’t a big deal if I made a mistake because I have a great defense behind me.”
In addition to a defense that kept Jefferson from gaining any momentum, Fruita also showcased a strong offense, led by cleanup hitter Ashleigh Wissel.
The junior catcher got things going for the Wildcats in the first inning, hitting an RBI double to score Kendra Williams. Wissel came through in the third, mirroring the first inning by hitting an RBI double to score Williams. Wissel eventually came around to score, giving Fruita a 3-0 lead.
“I’m really proud of the girls keeping their level of intensity up throughout the whole game,” Dunn said. “We are scoring runs throughout, not just in one or two innings.”
The Wildcats pushed their lead to 5-0 by the sixth inning when Paulson helped her own cause with a solo home run to left center field.
“I was fired up that inning and was looking to get a hit,” Paulson said. “I pretty much knew it was gone.”
Brooke Williams added a two-run triple in the inning.
“They are having fun and enjoying playing softball,” Dunn said. “It’s important for them to get confidence in what they are doing.”
Paulson went 2 for 3 and allowed only three hits.
The freshman provides a solid third pitching option for the Wildcats to go along with senior Kristina Pacheco and junior Erika Chirdon.
“I am really excited about our pitching staff,” Dunn said. “The potential is there and it will be fun to see how they do.”
Fruita ended the tournament by defeating Palisade 12-2 later in the day. The Wildcats were propelled by a seven-run third inning. Earlier in the day, Palisade defeated Basalt 16-2.
Grand Junction freshman pitcher Arrianna Diaz threw a no hitter against Rifle in a 4-0 victory and then the Tigers defeated Delta 4-2.
Central won the Brighton Invitational, winning three games, including a 4-0 championship win against Brighton.
The Warriors began the day with a 15-2 win over Scottsbluff, Neb., then defeated Eaglecrest 4-1. Mikayla Duffy pitched the final two games for the Warriors, giving up only one run. Duffy and Whitney Stone each hit a two-run home run.
“We waited a long time to play our first games this season, but we played well,” Central coach Scott Else said. “The key all weekend was defense.”