Tigers refocus, blank Fruita Monument, 2-0
In one week, the Grand Junction High School softball team went from striking out consistently to Fruita Monument pitcher Mallory Paulson to connecting against Paulson for nine hits in a 2-0 victory on Tuesday at Bergman Field.
“We were a little more focused,” Grand Junction coach Adam Diaz said. “It was homecoming week. The girls were concerned with dresses, their hair getting done, boys asking them (to the dance) — their mind wasn’t on the game.”
The homecoming distractions were over as Grand Junction (15-3, 8-1 Southwestern League) gained ground on Fruita (13-5, 9-1) in the league standings.
Grand Junction right fielder Maddie Marsh, who actually had a football player ask her to the dance during last week’s Fruita-Grand Junction game — Tigers player Robbie Gonzalez and three friends peered signs that helped pop the question over the outfield wall — went 1 for 3 with an RBI double in the top of the fifth inning.
She said the Tigers came more mentally prepared.
“I got a new hair bow and it sparkles,” Marsh said.
Hey, it’s as good a reason as any.
For pitcher Elisha Jahnke, a distraction last week was the rainy weather. On Tuesday, she pitched a five-hit shutout, mixing her fastball with a devastating changeup.
“I worked hard this week,” said Jahnke, who struck out five and walked two.
She also got solid defense behind her. In the bottom of the fourth, after Grand Junction had taken a 1-0 lead when a Kylie Burns triple turned into a run thanks to Shafer Rubalcaba’s single, the Tigers tracked down a pair of fly balls in foul territory.
First Tigers catcher Morgan Zanski chased a Paulson foul ball to the Fruita Monument dugout, where she made the grab. Then first baseman Brittany Arcieri bolted far into the right-field foul ground to nab another pop fly.
To end the game, Tigers second baseman Marisa Arrieta made three ground ball put-outs. For the second out, she knocked down a ball hit by Darrian Medina and picked it up in time to throw Medina out.
“It wasn’t one of those where I had to think about it,” Arrieta said. “I just reacted.”
Fruita hit back-to-back singles in the sixth but Jahnke got Morgan Young to ground out to first base.
Zanski said unlike during Fruita’s 10-2 win last week, she and Jahnke pitched away from hard-hitting Kenzie DeCrow (2 for 3) and Paulson (0 for 2 with a walk).
Paulson hit two home runs in the previous meeting.
“We were just not making it easy,” Zanski said. “They’ll take advantage of it if you give them good pitches.”
And — no more distractions.
“When we play our brand of ball,” Diaz said, “we’re a dangerous team.”