Central falls just short in season-opening test

Central’s Maya Murdock, 1, leaps into the air to catch a high throw to second as ThunderRidge’s Rachel Bean goes low for the slide into the base during the top of the seventh inning of Saturday’s game at Kronkright Field.

Central’s pitcher Kelty Key winds up for hte pitch to a ThunderRidge player during the top of hte third inning of Saturday’s game at Kronkright Field.

For three of the past four seasons, the Central High School softball team has scheduled ThunderRidge, a perennially successful program from Highlands Ranch, early in the season.

That’s meant a tough early test for the Warriors, especially when several players are stepping into varsity roles for the first time.

For five innings Saturday morning, Central pieced together an outstanding performance against the Grizzlies, but ThunderRidge surged late to defeat the Warriors 3-2 at Kronkright Complex.

Central (0-1) led 2-0 for most of the game thanks to a two-run outburst in the third inning. Mya Murdock hit a one-out single and advanced to second on a groundout. With two down, Jordyn Hays ripped an RBI double and Hailey Schaneman followed with an RBI-run single.

That lead gave pitcher Kelty Key, who is taking on a larger role this season, some breathing room against the Grizzlies (2-0). Central coach Scott Else said he was happy with the Warriors’ performance, especially against such stiff competition.

“ThunderRidge plays in a tough league and they’re good every year, so it’s really a credit to them that they drive all the way over here to play us because a lot of teams don’t want to do that. All the credit to them for coming over here and giving us a chance to play one of the better teams in the state this early,” Else said. “We’ve lost to them the last couple years, but after that we’ve gone on runs, so that’s a good sign. We were in this game the whole time, too. We definitely had a chance to win.”

A two-run single from Grizzlies center fielder Courtney McAllister tied the game in the sixth and a single from Hannah Stanley won it in the seventh. Central went down in order to end the game.

Else said the early lead is encouraging, regardless of the outcome.

“I knew that whoever scored first would have the advantage and we held that lead for quite a while,” Else said. “They battled back, but it’s just some little things here and there. We need to charge some fly balls, make some cuts, could’ve scored on a passed ball where we would have had a one-run lead going into the seventh. Just little things, but we’ll learn from it. We have a good group of kids here.”

The Warriors also saw two freshmen in the field, with Murdock at shortstop and Myah Arrieta in left field. Although Arrieta didn’t see a ton of action in the outfield in the game, Murdock turned a double play in the fifth inning.

Else also credited Key, a junior, for her work in the pitching circle as she held the Grizzlies to seven hits and three runs.

“Mya Murdock had that great double play, had a hit and scored one of our runs,” Else said. “Myah Arrieta didn’t really have a ball hit to her out there, but she’s clearly one of our more athletic outfielders. First time Kelty has seen a varsity mound and she held one of the better hitting teams to three runs. There’s a lot to be excited about.”

Eagle Valley 20, Palisade 3: The Bulldogs (0-3, 0-1 Class 4A Western Slope League) lost their league opener against the Devils (2-3, 1-1 WSL) at Bergman Field.  Haley Carver had an RBI and scored a run for Palisade.

Carrollton, Ga., 20, Grand Junction 0: The Tigers (1-4) lost their fourth consecutive game at a tournament in Fort Collins after opening the season with a victory.


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