Monument wins state title
Monument Little League pitcher Zach Coutts wasn’t sure how tall he is, at first saying he didn’t know, then offering, “About five-foot.”
He was more certain about his weight: “96–97 pounds.”
What those numbers don’t measure is the strength of his right arm or the accuracy with which he throws a baseball.
He’s a small package on the mound, even for a 12-year-old, but his history is one of coming up big, like he did Monday night at the Monument Little League baseball complex. There, on a rain-soaked diamond, he baffled the South Boulder Thunderbirds for 5 2/3 innings, allowing just two hits, as Monument won 9-2 in the Major Boys Little League state championship game.
With the win, Monument advances to the Little League Southwestern Region tournament Aug. 3–9 in Waco, Texas,
“He’s a big-game pitcher,” Monument manager Sean Kreidler said of Coutts. “He’s gritty. I think people underestimate him because of his size, but he has some power in that right arm.”
When it was mentioned to Coutts’ teammate Zach Rush that Coutts is just a little guy, Rush said, “I know, and he throws gas.”
Coutts consistently threw strikes and struck out 11 batters. He retired the side in order in the first inning, all via strikeout, and he struck out four batters in the bottom of the fifth inning when one of the strikeout victims reached first base on a dropped third strike.
“I’m just trying to go to the mitt,” Coutts said of his approach on the mound. “Throw strikes all the time, be proficient.”
The 85-pitch limit for Little League cost Coutts the chance at a complete game. Rush had to enter the game to record the final out.
Then, it was time to celebrate. After the postgame ceremonies concluded, Kreidler gathered his players in left field and told them, “We’re not done with a state title. We’re not done with a state title.”
The goal all along, Kreidler said, is to win a regional title and become the first Colorado team to advance to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Kreidler thinks Monument has the pitchers, led by Coutts and Jax Nourse, and as his team has demonstrated all postseason, it can swing the bats.
Monument hit three home runs Monday night, including two in the top of the sixth when Canon Kreidler cracked a solo shot over the center field fence, and two batters later, Rush unloaded on an off-speed pitch for a two-run home run, his fourth home run in three games at the state tourney, making it 9-0.
A home run to lead off the second inning by Derek Shaver was Monument’s first run.
In the third inning, it added four runs, mostly via walks and wild pitches.
Whatever is presented, that’s what Monument takes advantage of, and Sean Kreidler said his team’s success to date has been “a total team effort. We have 12 of the best baseball players in Colorado. We’re proud of them all. They all work hard.”
9-10 Girls Softball
The Grand Mesa 9-10 Girls fastpitch softball team also claimed a state title Monday night, defeating Hidden Lake 13-2 in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule.
Shaylyne Otero hit two home runs and a triple and drove in three runs to pace Grand Mesa’s 11-hit attack. Meanwhile, Erica Broderson added a triple and a double and drove in a run.
Kelty Key pitched a complete game for the win, scattering three hits and striking out nine while weathering two rain delays.
The rain delays and some things going on in the stands led Grand Mesa manager Kristi Courter to say, “I honestly have to say for a young group of kids, they play with a lot of composure. ... I’m very proud of them.”
Behind the plate, Sierra Dunham showed off her arm again. For the second game in a row, she threw out two runners who tried to steal second base, and Grand Mesa’s defense recorded a second-straight error-free game.
Little League 9-10 Girls do not advance to a regional.