Tigers execute in all phases in DeCrow wins
They got the excellent pitching they’re used to getting. They played solid defense. And they finally started hitting.
That’s Tigers softball, according to Grand Junction softball coach Adam Diaz, and he waited until Saturday, Games 7 and 8 of the season, to finally see it.
The Tigers swung the bats the best they have all season, Diaz said, as they defeated Heritage 14-5 and Mountain Range 9-3 during the second and final day of the Deke DeCrow Memorial Tournament at Kronkright Softball Complex.
“They played relaxed, confident, with pride,” Diaz said. “The girls were playing the game the way it should be played.”
Grand Junction pitcher Elisha Jahnke threw two complete games for the victories, and Diaz said the defense behind her was solid. The Tigers made one fielding error in the two games.
Where they really improved was at the plate, beginning with a 17-hit performance against Heritage. Morgan Zanski, who moved to the No. 2 spot in the order after batting at the back of the order previously, led the way with four hits. Kylie Burns, who dropped from No. 2 in the order to No. 9, went 3 for 3 with a triple and two RBI.
Diaz said he made some changes in the lineup, and the players embraced them, especially Burns, whom Diaz said thanked him for making her wake up.
“Kylie Burns came out just crushing the ball,” he said. “She just embraced (the change) and exploded.”
Shafer Rubalcaba’s bat came to life as she collected two hits in each game and doubled in each. Diaz also commended Rubalcaba’s defense at third base and Marisa Arrieta’s glove work at shortstop.
Grand Junction finished the tournament 3-0, the only team among the eight in the field to go unbeaten, and raised its overall mark to 7-1.
Diaz said the Front Range teams that played in the tourney are good teams, and the Tigers met the challenge.
He also was glad to see his team’s determined response after a 3-2 loss to Fruita Monument in a Southwestern League game Wednesday. He said the Tigers failed that night to match the excitement exuded by the Wildcats. That changed in the tournament.
“They bounced back, especially after an emotional loss,” Diaz said. “We’re starting to play more of the Tiger softball that we’re used to.”
Wildcats bounce back
Fruita Monument (3-1) lost its first game of the season when ThunderRidge routed the Wildcats 13-3 in five innings Saturday morning. As discouraging as that was, first-year Fruita coach Eddie Mort was encouraged by the Wildcats’ afternoon response, when they rallied twice to beat Prairie View 9-7.
“To lose that one this morning and bounce back, show that heart, that’s the sign of a good ball club,” Mort said.
ThunderRidge scored four runs in the first inning, and Fruita cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the frame. Then, the Grizzlies erupted for eight runs in the third on five hits, including a home run, and two errors.
From there, the Wildcats got too aggressive at the plate, trying to get back into the game, Mort said.
Against Prairie View, despite again giving up four runs in the first inning, Fruita didn’t panic.
“We finally started to slow down,” Mort said.
The Wildcats struck for five runs in the bottom of the third to take a 5-4 lead. Prairie View tied the game with a run in the fourth and took a 7-5 lead with two runs in the fifth. Then, Fruita erupted again, this time for four runs. The Wildcats then let pitcher Lauren Reed and their defense do the rest.
Fruita center fielder Arianna Zambrano denied Prairie View’s Jade Morton a home run when she caught a fly ball at the fence.
There was one runner on, and a home run would have tied the game.
In the top of the seventh, Prairie View drew a one-out walk, but third baseman Sheridan Van Hoose started a 5-4-3 double play with a quick strike to second baseman Karli Myers, who made the pivot and threw out the runner at first.
Bulldogs drop two
Palisade finished the tournament 0-3 after losing 18-2 to Mountain Range and 12-2 to Heritage.
Bulldogs coach Megan Stluka said her team showed her something in each game, though, scoring some runs late to show they hadn’t quit.
“It shows a lot about their character,” she said. “These losses definitely hurt, but they’re going to make us a better team in the end.”
Warrior win streak halted
Central lost its first two games of the season after a 6-0 start.
Prairie View hit two home runs and battered the Warriors 11-2 in five innings.
ThunderRidge hit three home runs, including two by Gabrielle Smith, to beat Central 9-3.
Montrose sweeps Rifle
Montrose beat Rifle 19-8 and 13-2 in a nonleague doubleheader at Rifle. The Indians collected 27 hits in the doubleheader, and Rifle committed 11 errors.