Hitting on all cylinders
Batting, pitching lift Fruita Major Girls into Little League state title game
When the Fruita Major Division Little League girls softball team’s bats start rolling, the pitching falls in line, especially when they’re playing at home.
Aside from a small pitching hiccup in the fourth inning, Fruita controlled every aspect of its 10-4 victory over Rawlings (Pueblo) Little League on Saturday.
Kalifornia Kisselburgh threw 4 1/3 innings with six strikeouts before she hit a batter, walked two and allowed a single, derailing what had been a gem of a performance.
Reliever Carlie Schafer then struggled with her control at first, but she got in a rhythm throwing low and induced three grounders in just more than an inning.
Schafer also scored three runs, batting second in the Fruita order, and hit a two-run double.
“Kali came in and threw some strong innings for us,” coach Sean Schafer said. “We put Carlie in, and she finished the game. We made a quick change and showed them a different speed pitcher, even though I think Kali could have finished the game for us. We’re a team, and every girl did their part as a team.”
After spending the first two innings timing up the opposing pitcher, Fruita scored multiple runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
Fruita found gaps and notched three extra-base hits.
Rawlings’ catcher limited Fruita base running, however, and threw more back-picks than Fruita had seen all season, Schafer said.
“It was bats and being smart on base that really won it for us,” Schafer said. “They have a great infield and a catcher that was just amazing. She was always looking to pick off our runners, so we really had to be smart on the bases to maximize our opportunities, and we were. We did a really good job.”
Fruita second baseman Amber Skillicorn said positivity and teamwork kept the team going during a Rawlings comeback in the fourth inning.
“We just really pull each other up,” Skillicorn said. “When someone gets out, we’re not going to tell them they didn’t do good. We’re really about picking each other up and supporting each other.”
Fruita will now play in a championship game Monday against the winner of today’s elimination game between Westminster and Rawlings.
Fruita shortstop Aryn Montgomery, who scored three runs against Rawlings, said for a repeat performance in the title game, the entire team will have to swing the bats well.
“We’re going to have to try our hardest, and I expect a really good game,” Montgomery said. “It’s going to be a fight to the finish against whoever we play. They’re going to come here, and they’re going to want it. We’re just fighting to be state champions.”
9-10 girls State
Despite rally chants echoing off the dugout, Fruita’s 9-10 Girls Division softball team fell one run short against Pueblo Little League, losing 6-5 in their state-tournament game Saturday at Little Salt Wash Park in Fruita.
A stellar pitching performance from Emily Abraham carried Pueblo. With a loud grunt and a nasty changeup, Abraham struck out 17 Fruita batters and was able to limit damage despite Fruita scoring a run in every inning except the third in the six-inning game.
Pueblo notched all but one out from strikeouts, but Fruita coach Loren Paulson said his squad got big hits when it needed them, despite coming up short.
Erica Skillicorn led Fruita at the plate with a 2-for-2 performance, hitting a home run and a double.
Fruita will face Sherrelwood at 5 p.m. today in an elimination game at Little Salt Wash Park. The winner advances to Monday’s championship game against Pueblo at 5 p.m.