Hot streak halted for Mavs in regionals
Mesa State College’s softball team played its way into the NCAA Division II Central Region tournament by peaking at the right time.
The Mavericks, though, couldn’t sustain their hot streak and were eliminated Saturday by the same team that ended their season last year, Winona State University, 9-3.
“We just had nothing go our way again,” Mesa State coach Kris Mort said. “(Ashlee) Duffy had another home run to right taken away. The kid goes to the fence, jumps up and catches it and brings it back in.
“In the fourth, Katie (Mitchell) has the bases loaded and she hits a line drive. She’s been struggling with the outside pitch, but she gets one and hits a line drive over the top of the first baseman with one out. Dani (Vallie) takes off because we were all sure it was going to get through.
“Their second baseman comes out of nowhere, catches the ball and doubles off Dani.”
The Warriors put up a six-run third inning to turn their 3-1 deficit into a 7-3 lead and the Mavericks never recovered.
Jenny Wilmes hit a three-run home run in the inning that put the game out of reach.
“Everything we hit went right at them and they had some squibbers. One went off Sara Jordan’s glove and went to Katie (at shortstop) and we can’t get the throw off in time,” Mort said. “The ball just didn’t fall our way. We swung it aggressively.
“I asked them to swing and swing hard, and they did.”
Jordan hit a two-run home run in the first inning and Wilmes answered with a solo home run in the second for Winona. Mesa picked up another run in the second when Duffy walked and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Lisa Pille. She took third on a passed ball and scored on Vallie’s infield hit for a 3-1 lead.
Duffy was robbed of a home run for the second straight week when her bid down the right-field line was caught when Dallas Schmacker reached over the four-foot-high fence and brought it back in. The same thing happened to Duffy in the RMAC tournament at Metro State, which also has short fences.
Jordan, who threw every game of the conference and regional tournaments for the Mavericks the past two weeks, allowed nine runs on 10 hits. She struck out three and walked four to finish her junior season 14-13.
The Mavs’ season ended 23-22.
The majority of the players are expected to return next season — Mesa loses Duffy, Mitchell and center fielder Gabi Parra to graduation, and Mort has already signed one pitcher out of California to help shore up the staff.
“I told the kids that nobody’s team in the country fought harder than ours to get into that tournament,” Mort said. “To get into it, to get the experience in back-to-back years, they did a great job of creating and maintaining tradition here.
“They fought and scrapped their way there and at the end of the say, you hope you learn in college athletics to put up a relentless fight.
“You may not always win, but you learn how to put up a relentless fight and not turn your back and walk away. If you learn that, you’ll win more than you’ll lose.”