Mavs split with Adams State in last series at Bergman
Three weeks ago, the Mesa State College softball team vowed to play harder for one another and become more aggressive hitters.
They weren’t empty promises — the Mavericks are 10-2 since that team meeting.
“We’re fighting. That’s what I love about this team, we never give up,” third baseman Lauren Cross said after getting all but knocked out in the second game of a doubleheader split Sunday against Adams State at Bergman Field.
The Mavericks, shut out for four innings in the first game, scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth and erupted for seven in the sixth for a 10-4 victory on Senior Day.
Adams State came back to win the second game 5-4, scoring twice in the top of the seventh, to win the RMAC West Division and lock up the No. 2 seed in this week’s RMAC tournament in Denver. Mesa State (23-17, 19-15 RMAC) drew the No. 6 seed and plays at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday against Colorado School of Mines.
Cross crushed a three-run home run to put the game out of reach in the sixth.
“I needed that because I’ve been struggling a little bit,” she said. “I needed something to get me going again, get my confidence back.”
Again in the second game, the Mavericks struggled to hit early, but came on late. Ashlee Duffy hit a solo home run in the fifth and Katie Mitchell had a three-run shot in the sixth, only to see the Grizzlies come back with two in the seventh.
Mesa’s commitment to play hard for one another showed all weekend.
On the first play of the second game, Adams State’s Rachel Vigil popped the ball up in foul territory between home plate and third. Both Cross and Meagan Hennessy, who caught her 117th career game Sunday, made a beeline for the ball.
Neither heard the other call for the ball and they slammed into each other, with Hennessy making the catch and Cross crumpling to the ground.
“I didn’t see her and I felt this brick wall,” Cross said. “At least she caught it.”
After a few seconds, Cross got to her feet, shaking the cobwebs loose, and went back to third, grinning and insisting she was all right.
“I didn’t hear her and she didn’t hear me, either,” Hennessy said. “We practice that all the time and it’s always hers but I didn’t hear anything. I’m not going to let it drop.
“When she got back up, I go, ‘Sorry, I’m stronger.’ ’’
“She was like, ‘I’m sorry, I’m just bigger than you,’ ’’ Cross said, laughing as she held an ice pack to her head. “Yeah, because she’s got all her pads on. That’s not fair. It felt like a brick wall. I had a pretty bad headache for awhile.”
Cross was replaced in the second inning by Lita Romero, but re-entered the game in the sixth inning after being cleared by the training staff.
In the sixth, she lined a single to left and scored on Mitchell’s fifth home run of the season, giving the Mavs a 4-3 lead.
Mesa’s defense came up with several big plays to keep them in the second game.
With two out in the fifth, second baseman Dani Vallie made a twisting, diving catch in shallow right-center to end the inning.
Quite possibly the most impressive play, though, came from Silva, the Mavs’ 5-foot-4 senior left fielder, who leaped and reached over the fence to rob Alexis Araza of a leadoff home run in the sixth inning.
The effort the Mavs made has coach Kris Mort confident heading into the conference tournament. More importantly, it left her with the feeling that her players understand why they play the game.
“The bigger message than wins and losses is can you create a plan, work within a unit and build a better project than you’ve built halfway through? They’ve done that,” Mort said. “You can see it on the scoreboard, but the inner growth is 10 times bigger as a group than the record.
“I told them, ‘Since you’ve started doing things, making a concerted effort to execute the plan, we’re 10-2.’ I’m really proud of them for that.”