Relaxed Chirdon pitches Fruita past Relaxed Chirdon pitches Fruita past GJ
A comfortable Erika Chirdon in the pitching circle isn’t what the opponent usually wants to see.
Tuesday at Bergman Field, the Fruita Monument junior found a groove to help propel the Wildcats to a 7-0 win over Grand Junction.
“I was a lot more comfortable and less nervous,” Chirdon said. “This time was a lot easier because I had an idea of where to throw to the batters.”
Chirdon pitched all seven innings and struck out eight. She was able to get out of jams, stranding six runners on base for Grand Junction. Although Chirdon isn’t an overpowering pitcher, she was able to confuse the Tigers’ hitters with her variety of pitches and locations.
“I don’t want to say she’s carrying us, but she’s pretty darn close,” Fruita Monument coach Jamie Dunn said. “She is getting out of a jam, and getting strikeouts when we need it.”
Chirdon defeated Grand Junction in a 2-1 victory earlier this month, but pitched most of the game either tied or trailing the Tigers. Tuesday night, Fruita’s offense showed up early, scoring three runs in the second inning highlighted by Ashley Hyde’s RBI single. Shanyn Thomas also scored on a throwing error.
The Wildcats (12-1, 4-0 Southwestern League) would add two more off Grand Junction pitcher Arrianna Diaz in the fourth inning when Jordan Paulson led off the inning with a solo home run. Thomas doubled in Hannah Mahnke two batters later to give Fruita the 5-0 lead.
“I’m really happy for Jordan Paulson to get that home run because that’s her first of the season,” Dunn said. “She’s a hitter with a lot of power, but she gets impatient so it was nice to see her make solid contact.”
With the 5-0 lead, Chirdon was able to go to work. She got out of tight situations in the fourth and fifth innings when Grand Junction (9-5, 1-4 SWL) had runners in scoring position.
“It was a lot easier not having to worry about runs, because we had five for most of the game,” Chirdon said. “I really didn’t have to worry if they had runners on base.”
Fruita would add its final two in the seventh inning, highlighted by a Paulson RBI single.
The win allowed Fruita Monument to sweep Grand Junction on the season, with the Wildcats only allowing one run to the Tigers in the two games.
“We were more comfortable as a team this time,” Dunn said. “The first game we came out overly excited, but today we remained calm no matter what, and I’m proud of them for that.”
With the loss, the Tigers were swept by both Central and Fruita Monument and struggled to score runs in each of the four games. Grand Junction coach Adam Diaz said the team is searching for an answer at the plate.
“We are baffled because we know they can hit it a lot better, we see it in practice,” Diaz said. “But we aren’t conveying that from the practice field to the game, so maybe we are trying too hard.”
Hannah Pilling did have a good night for Grand Junction, going 2 for 2. The Tigers host to Montrose next Tuesday.
Fruita Monument has Montezuma-Cortez and Durango this weekend in doubleheaders at Kronkright Park.
“We aren’t getting cocky but we are excited to play anyone,” Chirdon said. “We want to prove ourselves, but we aren’t by any means thinking we have this in the bag.”