Triple the fun

Batchelor's clutch three-run triple lifts Central past GJ

Central’s Makenzie Lange, along with Grand Junction catcher Marisa Renova and the home plate umpire, watch the flight of Lange’s solo home run Tuesday night in the second inning of the Warriors’ 6-4 victory over the Tigers.

Sierra Batchelor slapped a bases-clearing triple to left field Tuesday night as the Central softball team overcame an early deficit and uncharacteristically sloppy defense to top Grand Junction 6-4 in a Southwestern League matchup at Bergman Field.

The Warriors, ranked No. 10 in Class 5A in the latest poll, took an early lead on senior night. Senior catcher Makenzie Lange crushed a solo home run well over the left-field fence to give Central (14-3, 8-0 SWL) a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning.

Grand Junction (7-10, 5-3 SWL) bounced back in the top of the fourth inning, taking its first lead in two games against Central this season with five hits.

Marisa Arrieta, Meeka Bass and Brittany Arcieri hit back-to-back-to-back singles, the third hit driving in a run. A rare throwing error from the Central infield gave Grand Junction a lead. Sabra Lawson drove in a run with a single, and Camryn Sanchez had the fifth single of the inning to put Grand Junction in front 4-1.

Central loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth, and Batchelor took advantage of a nontraditional defensive alignment. With the Grand Junction outfielders playing along the outside edge of the infield dirt, Batchelor took a running start out of the left-handed batter’s box and looped a shallow fly ball over the left fielder, which settled at the fence for the three-run triple.

The sophomore is right-handed and has batted right-handed for most of her career, but Central coach Scott Else, seeing teams use infield shifts to minimize Batchelor’s speed, converted the second baseman into a left-handed hitter. Batchelor is a “slapper,” someone who runs forward in the batter’s box in hopes of beating the subsequent throw after slapping the ball into play. She has seen success after the switch and leads the Warriors with a .515 batting average and 35 hits. The triple was the first of her varsity career.

“I was taught that if they bring the outfielders in like that, you just swing,” Batchelor said. “After that, I just ran.”

After Batchelor cleared the bases, a fielding error on a hard grounder allowed her to score, giving Central a 5-4 lead.

“We’ve worked on that with our slappers, just having them stand there and hit left-handed,” Else said. “She got a good pitch, drove it to left, and I think it surprised their left fielder a bit. It was definitely clutch for us.”

Baylea Hice added Central’s final run with a triple of her own, scoring on an error on the cutoff throw.

Melissa Gellermann, after struggling through the fourth inning, didn’t allow another run the rest of the game. The sophomore gave up four runs — three earned — walked two and struck out two.

“She’s tough, and she’s still young,” Else said. “She’s a young pitcher who is figuring it out. You’ll see her pout a little if she doesn’t get a call or gives up a hit, but you get out there and get after her a little bit, she answers the call. Once you get her focused, she does a great job.”

Haley Hutto took the loss for Grand Junction. She gave up six runs on eight hits, walked two batters and struck out six.

Offensively for Central, Hice and Amanda Etcheverry had multiple hits. Six different players scored runs for the Warriors.

“We’re coming back from Durango and Cortez where we faced not-that-great of teams and scored a ton of runs,” Else said. “I think it was tough for us to come back and two days later have to face a really good, really well-coached team. They had to flip that switch, and it took them a couple innings to get there, but once they did, they scored runs when they had to, and I’m proud they persevered like that.”


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