Wissel’s walk-off HR lifts Wildcats past rival Tigers
Fruita Monument softball coach Jamie Dunn threw an idea out to Wildcats’ cleanup hitter Ashleigh Wissel, hoping it would work.
Tuesday night at Bergman Field, the Wildcats (8-1, 1-0 Southwestern League) were tied 1-1 with Grand Junction in the bottom of the eighth inning. With one out and Wissel on deck, Dunn tired to motivate her junior catcher by calling up every player’s childhood dream.
“I told Wissel, ‘This is the type of stuff you lay in bed and dream about, watching the ball going over the fence to end the game,’ ” Dunn said.
For Wissel, dreams do come true.
Wissel turned on a Cierra Cosslett fastball and hit a solo walk-off home run over the center field fence to give Fruita the 2-1 victory.
“When I saw the pitch, I was like ‘I’m swinging at this one,’ ” Wissel said. “As soon as it came off the bat, I could tell it was gone.”
Wissel’s home run was the conclusion to a game filled with drama from start to finish. The two teams were kept off the scoreboard by good pitching performances by Cosslett and Fruita Monument pitcher Erika Chirdon for the first four innings. Grand Junction’s Kelsey Jull broke the scoreless tie in the fifth inning with a solo home run.
“I think the home run pumped us up to show that we can hit off of her,” Jull said. “We worked really hard tonight.”
Grand Junction carried that momentum into the next inning, when Arrianna Diaz laced a single off Chirdon with one out. The Tigers’ charge was quickly halted as the next batter, Sami Cannetti, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
“That’s the first double play we have turned all year,” Dunn said. “There is something in this group that they remain calm.”
Fruita turned to the offense in the next inning. Brooke Williams led off the sixth with a triple and Wissel knocked her in with an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1.
The Wildcats had the opportunity to add more when Hannah Mahnke walked, moving Wissel to second. With two runners on, Jordan Paulson ripped a line drive to center field. Grand Junction center fielder Joei Ritter caught the fly ball, threw to Jull at first base, who then threw it to Roxanne Zich at third, who tagged out Wissel attempting to take third base, completing the triple play.
“Sometimes you get caught and that’s a mental error that can happen at any time,” Dunn said. “But we recovered, and kept going until we found the top half of the ball.”
Fruita is off until Saturday when the Wildcats take on Gunnison.
“This is going to propel us pretty good,” Wissel said. “I think we will be up from the first inning on so we don’t have to come back.”
Grand Junction (8-2, 0-1 SWL) has another tough league test Thursday against Central.