Good decision, Coach

Etcheverry's focus on hitting, defense pays off with home run for Warriors

Amanda Etcheverry, center, gets a high five after hitting a sacrifice fly Friday. In the first inning, she hit a home run for the Warriors.

Taryn Smith of Central High School slides safely into second with a stolen base as Samantha Schoen of ThunderRidge waits for the throw.

Amanda Etcheverry pitched in 11 games last season for the Central High School softball team, but she doesn’t figure to see the pitching circle much in her final season as a Warrior.

Central coach Scott Else said he wants her to focus on hitting and playing defense, so the senior third baseman can do what she did Friday.

The 5-foot-1 Etcheverry drilled a two-run home run in the second inning, brought in a third run with a sacrifice fly and put down a sacrifice bunt to lead the Warriors to a 7-0 win over ThunderRidge in the nonleague season opener for both teams.

Etcheverry’s home run came in the first inning, a line drive to left-center at Kronkright Softball Complex to open the scoring.

“It was a fastball, and normally I don’t (swing at) first pitches, but that time I saw it,” she said. “It was my pitch.”

In the third inning, she lofted a high pitch to center field to bring home Taryn Smith from third base. And in the fifth she bunted with runners on first and second, and when the pitcher threw the ball high to first base, the ball went into foul territory in right field, and Smith and Sierra Batchelor scored on the error for a 5-0 lead.

The final runs for the Warriors came two batters later when first baseman Megan Cosslett belted a pitch over the center field fence for a two-run home run.

Meanwhile, one of the pitchers who made Etcheverry’s infield focus possible was twirling a two-hit shutout. Sophomore Melissa Gellermann threw strikes, and the Warriors’ defense made several great plays as Central displayed its abilities in all three phases of the game.

Gellermann didn’t walk a batter, and she struck out two.

“She’s not a big strikeout pitcher,” Else said. “She knows she has a great defense behind her. She got ground balls and fly balls, and we made plays at third base and shortstop, got a great catch in left field, and then we got that diving catch by our freshman Jordyn (Hays) in right field.”

Another Hays was in fine form all game at shortstop. Senior Tyler Hays consistently made plays going to her right, snaring the ball then unleashing powerful throws. She also made a fantastic play in the fourth when a ThunderRidge batter smashed a ball back toward the mound. The ball glanced off Gellermann’s glove and rolled toward second base, where Hays scooped it up and fired a perfect throw to first to get the out.

The first game of the season can be a time for sloppy play, but Central, a veteran squad with six seniors back from a team that finished 12-9 a year ago, looked polished in its opener.

Else said the Warriors have talent, and as a result they have some expectations, but what they’ve been doing in practice still needs to show up in the games.

What Else saw Friday was a good start.

■ Grand Junction dropped a pair of games to open its season, losing 12-7 to Arvada West and 10-2 to Denver East.

“We made a lot of fundamental errors, a lot of mental errors,” Tigers coach Adam Diaz said, “but they didn’t give up. They kept playing hard.”

Cami Sanchez had three hits, including a double, and Megan Rubalcaba doubled and drove in three runs for Grand Junction against Arvada West. Sabra Lawson led the Tigers with three hits against Denver East, and Marisa Arrieta hit a two-run, inside-the-park home run in the first inning.


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