Mountain Lions are RMAC CHAMPS!!!
Saturday was the day the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs had been waiting for, and when Amber Colton snagged a line drive to close out the Regis Rangers it ended in jubilation the Mountain Lions have dreamed about.
CU-Colorado Springs beat Regis 6-3 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament championship game, giving the Mountain Lions softball team its first conference championship.
"More than anything I just feel so great for these kids" said coach Scott Peterson. "What a great feeling."
The win gave the Mountain Lions an automatic berth into the regional championships that begin Thursday.
But it wasn't easy for CU-Colorado Springs.
The Mountain Lions put themselves behind the 8-ball the first game of the day by losing 3-1 to Regis. Ranger's starter Christina Wade busted the Mountain Lions with inside pitches all game, holding the RMAC's top offense to just three hits. Regis scored all three of its runs off of home runs.
The loss dropped top seeded CU-Colorado Springs down to the loser's bracket and left it with the daunting task of winning three straight games, without a break, in order to win the tournament.
Mesa State was the Mountain Lions' next opponent. The Mavericks came into the game with a lot of momentum after a 10-5 win over New Mexico Highlands, where Mesa State rallied back from a 5-1 hole with a nine-run fifth inning.
CU-Colorado Springs opened the scoring in the second with a Charlene Berg home run that put the Mountain Lions ahead 1-0. Berg's blast to straight away center proved to be simply a warm-up act.
Berg, who came into the day with just two home runs for the season, hit another two dingers against Mesa State and then also had one in the championship. Berg was a virtual no-brainer for RMAC Tournament MVP as she hit .357 (5-for-14) with four home runs and nine RBI.
"We talked to (Berg) a little bit after (the first game against Regis) about her pulling her head off the ball." said Peterson. "We told to keep her to keep her head on it. All of a sudden she just exploded, that was unbelievable."
Berg admitted there was a problem with her head, but her version was slightly different
"I needed to pull my head out of my butt, and I did" said Berg.
Berg said she got the message in a short note that a friend left for her after the day opening lost to Regis.
"She was pretty much yelling at me (in the note)," said Berg. "It was my inspiration; I kept it in my back pocket the rest of the day."
Berg's second home run came in her second at bat, this time a grand slam that pushed the lead to 5-0. Her next time up it was a two-run bye-bye to left center in the sixth. Brittni Carlson's sacrifice fly later in the inning ended the game as CU-Colorado Springs mercy-ruled the Mavericks 8-0.
Brenna Pool got the win giving up just three hits. It was Pool's sixth shutout of the season.
The Mountain Lions then moved on to a re-match with Regis. Pool got the start and the win as CU-Colorado Springs beat the Rangers 5-2. Regis got a run off Pool first. In the second Pool got that run back.
Pool tied the game at one with a two-out single down the left field line that scored Berg. CU-Colorado Springs went up 3-1 in the third when Crystal Krebs jacked a two-run shot to left. The score stayed that way until Regis' Melissa Backlund led of the fifth with a solo homerun. Colton was brought in to spell Pool and ended up picking up a save, not allowing a base runner in her three innings of work. Colton also picked up her first hit of the season.
Colton, who came into the game with just four at bats on the year, had an RBI single to left with two away in the sixth. Colton then scored from first on a Kara Rainey double to put CU-Colorado Springs up 5-2.
Because the loss was Regis' first of the tournament, the Mountain Lions had to beat the Rangers one more time to take the title.
Wade, who puzzled the Mountain Lions earlier in the day, got the ball in the championship game for the Rangers. This game was another story. The Mountain Lions torched Wade for six runs off of 11 hits in her 4 1/3 innings
CU-Colorado Springs took an early 1-0 lead in the when Krebs drove in Rainey with a two-out single to left. The Mountain Lions made it 2-0 in the second on Berg's fourth home run of the day. Regis rallied back to tie it in the bottom of the inning when Amy Tarnoff hit a two-run home run.
CU-Colorado Springs took the lead back in the third when Lindsay Shandera smacked a two-out double to left center.
"I was really excited to be in that position," said Shandera "I just wanted to get a base hit and bring in some runs."
Shandera was in that same position in the sixth and once again she came through with a huge hit. Shandera belted a two-run home run, the first of her collegiate career, giving the Mountain Lions a comfortable 6-2 lead.
"(Shandera) is a big-time player," said Peterson. "Her play in the field was great, too."
Colton got the win, limiting the Rangers to just five hits, striking out four. Colton was named the tournament's Most Valuable Pitcher by going 2-1 with a save and striking out an average of one batter an inning.
Joining Colton and Berg on the All-RMAC Tournament team were Krebs, Pool and Carlson.
After the final out was recorded, most of the Mountain Lions had trouble putting into words the amount of excitement they had.
"I have never felt anything like this," said Berg. "It's incredible."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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|October 18, 2004||Renovation of softball field begins||The first step of what promises to be a major upgrade of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball facility began Monday when team members began painting the bleachers at what used to be Four-Diamonds Sports Complex's Red Field.|
|September 30, 2004||Fall ball shows that Lions are loaded||Collegiate softball's fall season operates much like pro football's preseason. The games don't count in the standings, so the primary goal is to evaluate talent for the upcoming spring season. After 17 games of evaluation, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs can be assured of one thing concerning its 2005 softball team.|
|June 2, 2004||Softball finishes 10th nationally||To the long string of firsts attained by the 2004 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball team, add one more.A Top-10 national ranking.The Mountain Lions finished the season ranked 10th in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II poll, which was released Wednesday. The NFCA is responsible for the official softball rankings of the NCAA.CU-Colorado Springs was unranked until the final poll. The Mountain Lions, however, gained national notice by knocking off three nationally ranked teams at the South Central regional tournament on their way to a second-place finish. That the South Central regional winner, Angelo State, went on to win the national championship also helped CU-Colorado Springs in the voting.|
|May 17, 2004||Powerful recruiting class bolsters Mountain Lions||If the coaches in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and the Southwest Region thought the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' run to the RMAC title and the regional championship game was a one-time fluke, they'll need to reevaluate that assessment. Not only did the Mountain Lions graduate no seniors, but they also will get back a star pitcher and have signed one of the strongest recruiting classes in school history.|