Tigers show patience at plate in doubleheader sweep of Fairview

The Grand Junction High School softball team drew bases-loaded walks on two straight at-bats with a full count and two outs during the second inning of Game 2 against Fairview.

Early in the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Tigers demonstrated they were willing to wait for the perfect pitch.

After scoring the two runs on walks, Grand Junction pounced on Fairview’s pitching, with Shafer Rubalcaba and Seaira Hickman slapping singles to spark a rally that led to a 7-5 win.

After cruising to a 12-3 win in Game 1 behind six strikeouts and a complete game from Elisha Jahnke, the second contest was a grind-it-out affair.

“We were able to get the win during the second game, but it was too close, especially with how well we’ve been playing lately,” Tigers coach Adam Diaz said.

For Diaz, teaching players how to balance plate discipline and being aggressive is a fine line, and one the Tigers haven’t perfected.

But being able to bring in substitutes during Game 2 helped him get the entire roster, top to bottom, working on that balance between patience and having a quick trigger.

“We need to be a little more aggressive when we’re at the plate instead of waiting until we’re down in the count to get going,” Diaz said.

“We need to be really aggressive on the first strike, especially if it’s the best pitch you see. We need to get on that.

“It’s one of those things that is taught over the season. We’re trying to be aggressive but maintain our discipline. You only get one ball to hit, so it might as well be the one you want. The pitcher owns the corners of the plate. But anything else, that’s your ball, and you need to take it.”

The Tigers (8-1) converted chances with runners in scoring position, especially in their five-run second inning, going 3 for 4 with runners in scoring position.

They also drew three of their eight walks against Fairview in that frame.

“I think that naturally good teams are going to manufacture runs with any opportunity they have,” Diaz said.

“Whether it’s being disciplined and accepting those walks or taking advantage of passed balls or errors. We’re taking advantage.”

The Tigers’ approach gave needed run support to pitcher Haley Hutto. The freshman threw seven innings with nine strikeouts and spread three earned runs across her complete game.

Errors nearly cost the Tigers in the fourth inning as the Knights scored runs on two balls that skipped past outfielders.

Sweeping Fairview (3-4) gives Grand Junction one of the better starts in program history, Diaz said. The Tigers have outscored opponents 90-26 this season.

“Defensively we’re solid,” Diaz said. “I’d put us up against any team in the state in terms of our defense. The bats seem to be more up and down. On some days we’re rolling. On others we’re really stooping to the level of our competition.”

The Tigers, though, have shown progress, just what Diaz wants to see.

“We’ve improved each and every game. Especially for our starters, these games are won and lost on the practice field for us,” he said. We practice hard and fast-paced. Just go, go, go. I like that, and with our deep bench, they’re always challenging the players to keep their positions.”

sOFTBALL

grand junction SWEEPS FAIRVIEW

GAME 1: Grand Junction 12, Fairview 3
 GAME 2: Grand Junction 7, Fairview 5


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