Hays powers Warriors past ‘Cats
Jordyn Hays came a few feet away from a four-home-run softball game Tuesday night.
The Central High School catcher launched two solo home runs and just missed out on a pair of grand slams as the Warriors defeated Fruita Monument 11-4 at Bergman Field.
Her first shot came in the top of the first inning, when she mashed a home run well over the fence in left field. It gave Central a 1-0 lead and the Warriors (14-4, 6-1 Southwestern League) led the Wildcats (5-11, 2-3) the rest of the way.
She almost had a grand slam in the second inning, with a Fruita outfielder catching the ball on the warning track, but the Warriors extended their advantage to 3-0 on a bases-load walk and a fielder’s choice.
Fruita cut that lead to 3-2 by the fourth inning, Central responded with a three-run rally in the fifth, then Hays tacked on another in the sixth with a solo home run. Hays stepped into the box with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, roping a hard line drive that hit high off the fence and fell for a double.
Central coach Scott Else said Hays had offseason shoulder surgery that limited her ability to play club softball in the summer, so she’s just getting back into a power-hitting grove.
Hays has put together a monster season for the Warriors, with team highs in batting average (.509), RBI (32) and hits (29). But after only two home runs in the first 15 games, Hays has five in her past three games, including three across a two-game series against Durango. Central, in that span, has outscored opponents 47-4.
“It’s the mental part of it that’s coming back,” Hays said. “The swing’s been there. I’m just starting to get the mental part of it back.”
Between Hays’ surges, the Warriors got bursts of hitting throughout the lineup. Tori Schuman hammered a two-run double in the fifth inning and Central added another run on a wild pitch. Up 6-2 after the fifth, Hays was responsible for the Warriors’ next three runs, then Hailey Schaneman smacked a two-run double to cap scoring.
Fruita Monument had solid hitting in smaller doses, with Katie Sparks dropping in an RBI single for the Wildcats’ first run in the second inning. Fruita edged closer, down 3-2 in the fourth inning and even as Central’s lead grew, Brandi Haller added two more runs with a double in the sixth.
Still, Central was aided by its pitching and a strong defensive effort. Kelty Key went the distance with three strikeouts and two walks. She scattered 10 hits and Else said she was able to limit the damage thanks to a solid infield behind her.
“Our infield has kind of a weird dynamic because we have two seniors on the corners (Schaneman and Schuman) who are just rock solid,” Else said. “Then we have two freshmen up the middle (Maya Murdock and Myah Arrieta) and, because they’re freshmen, you never quite know what you’re going to get. But they’re so athletic and make some great plays, and that entire group just works really well together.”
Grand Junction 18, Montrose 0: Grand Junction got a four-inning no hitter from Hannah Hutto and two home runs from Megan Rubalcaba to get the SWL win over the Indians (8-8, 1-4 SWL)
The Tigers (9-9, 5-2 SWL) avenged an 8-7 loss to the Indians on Thursday.