Warrior mentality: Central overcomes mistakes to top ‘Cats
Anxiety and nerves led to early errors, but the Central High School softball team overcame them to escape again.
Central fell behind, but rallied to defeat Fruita Monument 5-3 in a Southwestern League game Tuesday night at Bergman Field.
“This is a big game for both teams,” Central senior Mikayla Duffy said. “Both teams have talent out the wazoo. It’s a good win, but nerve-racking.”
The fourth-ranked Warriors (10-2, 3-0 SWL) scored two runs on an error in the top of the seventh inning to complete the rally.
Junior Taylor Hice put down a bunt with two on and no outs. Fruita Monument first baseman Hannah Mahnke fielded it and attempted to get Duffy out at third base, but the throw got away. Duffy and Danielle Romine scored.
“Taylor Hice is a lefty with decent speed,” Central coach Scott Else said. “I thought we’d put the pressure on them and make them make a play. We got lucky and she threw the ball away and we scored two runs.”
The 10th-ranked Wildcats (10-2, 2-1 SWL) were able to get a couple of base runners on in the seventh, but left them stranded to end the game.
The loss may not hurt as much as losing their No. 4 hitter, Taylor Johnson, to an injured hand in the first inning.
Johnson grounded out in the first inning, but was hit on the hand on the pitch, splitting open the skin.
Although a run scored, Johnson was in pain and was taken to Community Hospital for X-rays and stitches, Fruita coach Jamie Dunn said. Johnson didn’t return.
“We had a game plan and things started to go south (when Johnson was injured),” Dunn said. “That certainly changed it. I was really proud of the girls in the way they kept battling. One throw. If you take back that one pitch, it’s a completely different game. I’m happy. We’ll get them again.”
Mahnke doubled home a run after Johnson’s groundout to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead, but they struggled to produce much offense the rest of the way.
Duffy limited Fruita to no earned runs on five hits, four walks and struck out three.
“The older Mik gets, the more she realizes she doesn’t have to strike everybody out,” Else said. “She’s getting very good at that.”
Duffy got some help from her defense in the second inning when right fielder Katie Fox secured two outs with a runner in scoring position.
“Katie Fox made two huge plays for us in that second inning,” Else said. “We’re a little nervous and she makes that diving catch then runs one down in the gap. If either one of those fall, that could change the game right there and we’re down 5-0.”
The Warriors got one run back in the third when Danielle Romine doubled home Brittany Hoppe, but the determined senior ran Duffy into an out. Romine continued onto third base, forcing a pickle with Duffy at third. Duffy was tagged out in between third and home plate. Fruita pitcher Erika Chirdon struck out the next batter to get out of the inning ahead 3-1.
In the fifth, Romine made up for her running mistake with a two-run home run to tie the game, 3-3.
“Danielle comes through time and time again,” Else said. “She had a really nice hit to right to tie the game up. At that point, it was trying to find a way to manufacture another run and hopefully Mikayla would shut their offense down.”
Chirdon limited the Warriors to three earned runs on 11 hits, four walks and struck out five.
“Erika pitched a great game, except one pitch that was hit over the fence,” Dunn said. “That was our game up to the last play. You can’t do that against good teams.”