Next stop, state: Central wins regional title
Force a dog into a corner and it will fight its way out.
Apparently the same can be said for the Central High School softball team.
Saturday at the Region 8 tournament at Canyon View Park, the Warriors found themselves six outs from losing in the championship game. A loss would force the Warriors to play another game to qualify for the Sweet 16 at the Class 5A state softball tournament Friday at the Aurora Sports Park.
Trailing Poudre 4-1 in bottom of the sixth inning, Central was able to string together four runs and take a 5-4 lead, which they didn’t give back.
“I was trying to keep morale up,” Central coach Scott Else said. “We are a good hitting team, and we’ve been down before, but we have always come back.”
In the sixth inning, the Warriors got a two-run double from Mikayla Duffy that cut the lead to 4-3.
“We knew there wasn’t going to be any easy games,” Central pitcher Mikayla Duffy said. “We were all just trying to put it into play.”
A few batters later, Central’s Katie Fox hit a two-run single that brought around two more runs and gave the Warriors a 5-4 lead. Fox getting a big hit at key moments was a common thing Saturday for the Warriors’ junior right fielder.
“Katie was awesome,” Else said. “She had a big hit in the first game and got another one there. She’s hitting No. 8 in our lineup, and she’s come through all year long.”
After the Warriors’ rally, the Impalas found themselves in a difficult spot heading into the final inning. Poudre was attempting to get runs across with a motivated Duffy on the mound.
“I knew I had to stay within myself,” Duffy said. “I had confidence in my team behind me.”
Duffy got the three outs, including a convincing strikeout of Ana Summers to end the game.
“Mikayla is an awesome pitcher, and she got a little frustrated in that (Poudre game),” Else said. “She buckled down and was throwing harder in the fifth inning than she did in the beginning of the game.”
In the first game, the Warriors took care of Grandview 6-0 with Duffy allowing only one hit. Offensively, Central had 18 total hits, including extra-base hits from Whittney Stone and Tayler Else.
Grandview came back from losing to Central in the first game to earn the final qualifying spot by defeating Poudre 2-1.
Central is in the state tournament for the third straight year.
“We did what we needed,” Else said. “It wasn’t how we drew it up, but we came through.”