Orchard Mesa wins 9/10 girls Little League title

Monument’s Joel Lively delivers a pitch Monday night in Monument’s 7-6 victory over Fruita in the winner’s bracket. Monument advanced to Thursday’s game against the winner of today’s Fruita B-Colorado River Valley game.

Girls in red-and-white jerseys zipped around the field, tossing water on coaches, laughing and shouting.

Orchard Mesa Little League’s 9/10 Girls team got a much-deserved celebration after beating Fruita 10-2 in the teams’ third and deciding game for the District 1 championship Monday night.

Orchard Mesa and Fruita were the only teams in the double-elimination tournament, and Orchard Mesa won the first game of the series 8-3 on Saturday before losing 11-6 in the second meeting Sunday. The Orchard Mesa girls, however, didn’t hang their heads after allowing Fruita to even the series.

According to coach Chris Carroll, the key to the team’s success was simply doing what kids do best: have fun.

A relaxed pregame warm-up that included plenty of running around and a game of hot potato reminded the team to keep the mood light.

“We let them be kids,” Carroll said. “In the end they are 9- and 10-year-old girls, and we just let them have fun. We didn’t put any pressure on them. We just told them, ‘Hey, it’s up to you guys. You can win or lose. Either way it’s just a game.’ ”

The joy was evident. Spectators could hear Orchard Mesa cheering from the dugout, and even the simplest of plays produced ear-to-ear grins from coaches and players.

The bunt made a frequent appearance for Orchard Mesa on offense and proved to be a fielding challenge for Fruita. Carroll made bunting a top priority in practice because he knows most 9- and 10-year-old girls aren’t too familiar with it.

“Bunting at this level is tough for these girls,” he said. “They’re not used to it, so we knew that bunting would be advantageous for us.”

Many of Orchard Mesa’s bunts turned into extra bases and often runs. That included a bunt down the third-base line that was good for a single plus three more bases because of two Fruita errors on the play.

Defensively, Orchard Mesa was solid behind pitcher Kennedy Vis, who pitched a complete game, scattering six hits. Carroll said he was proud of Vis, calling her the team’s star pitcher.

“Kennedy did a fantastic job,” he said. “She just dominated.”

Rowan Kimble led Fruita’s offense, hitting a triple and a double, and she scored both runs.

In other District 1 tourneys Monday:

Junior Boys: Colorado River Valley beat Orchard Mesa 12-2, and Delta defeated Monument 15-5 in elimination games.

50/70 Boys: Delta defeated Fruita 15-1 to win the title.

Major Boys: Monument beat Orchard Mesa 15-5, and Grand Mesa beat Palisade 24-4 in elimination games.

10/11 Boys: Three Rivers routed Orchard Mesa 19-2 in an elimination game to earn a rematch against Monument, which edged Three Rivers 7-6 on Sunday. Monument can win the title, or Three Rivers can force a second game for the championship.

9/10 Boys: Monument edged Fruita 7-6 in the winner’s bracket, and Three Rivers B nipped Palisade 15-14 in an elimination game.

Junior Girls: Colorado River Valley defeated Orchard Mesa 16-4.

Major Girls: Grand Mesa beat Monument 10-0 in an elimination game and will play unbeaten Fruita today. Fruita can win the championship, or Grand Mesa can force a second game for the title.


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