Fruita’s offense breaks out in win over Central
Hannah Mahnke kept her mind-set simple.
The Fruita Monument High School junior realized she didn’t need to hit a home run. She simply needed to hit the softball.
Mahnke was 3 for 4 with four RBI to lead the 10th-ranked Wildcats, who had 18 hits and took advantage of five Central errors, to a 17-6 Southwestern victory over Central on Tuesday night at Kronkright Complex. Fruita (9-3, 2-1 SWL) scored nine runs off errors.
“I got up and wanted a base hit; I didn’t want anything big,” Mahnke said. “I was just trying to score the runners. I tried to have good pitch selection and it worked out for me.”
Mariah O’Dell was 3 for 5 with a double and three RBI, Kendra Williams was 3 for 4 with five runs and Makenzie Decrow was 1 for 2 with one home run and three RBI for the Wildcats.
Fruita pitcher Mallory Paulson made sure Central (5-6, 0-3 SWL) didn’t match the Wildcats’ production.
The junior limited the Warriors to one hit, struck out six and retired 14 consecutive batters in five innings of relief.
“We needed her to do that,” Fruita coach Jamie Dunn said. “We’ve been trying to give Jenni (Sneddon) the ball a little bit and see what happens. They’re going to have to share the load. Jenni needs to get out there and face some good hitters. I think she figured out pretty quickly you just can’t throw it over the plate.”
The Warriors tagged Sneddon for five runs in the bottom of the first to take a 5-2 lead with the aid of two Fruita errors. Amber Walters, Kiana Garcia and Laurel Rafferty each had RBI singles.
Fruita made another error in the second inning that led to a Central run.
“I told the kids we’re going to have to score 17 runs if we’re going to make three or four errors a game,” Dunn said. “We have a good enough hitting team, we’re getting production from the lower portion of the lineup.
“Defensively, we have work to do.”
Paulson replaced Sneddon in the second inning. After giving up one walk, one hit and an unearned run, Paulson settled down, retiring the next 14 batters she faced, including six by strikeout.
O’Dell hit home a run for a 7-6 lead, then scored with Williams on Mahnke’s single for a 9-6 lead. The Wildcats added six runs in the fifth, including three on Decrow’s home run.
Paulson got a little help from her defense once it settled down from making three errors in the first two innings.
Mahnke caught a couple line drives at first base.
“I was just trying to help out Mallory,” Mahnke said. “You just stick your glove out and hope for the best.”