Softball Wins Season Opener
It took the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball team six innings to get its offense untracked, but the Mountain Lions still managed a sweep to open the 2005 season.
Brittni Carlson hit a towering home run that ignited a four-run rally to lift the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a 4-3 victory over the Regis Rangers Sunday in the season opener for both teams.
Behind a Brenna Pool one-hitter, the Mountain Lions went on to win the second game of the Regis University Round Robin, a 3-0 win over Otero Junior College. While only the Regis game will count in the standings and statistics, CU-Colorado Springs coach Scott Peterson was glad to get the season started.
â€œWe wanted to get a couple of games under our belt before heading to Phoenix,â€ said CU-Colorado Springs coach Scott Peterson, referring to next weekendâ€TMs RMAC/Lone Star Crossover Tournament, which will factor heavily in the regional rankings.
Despite an unusually large strike zone and a nasty changeup from Regis freshman pitcher Nicole Breeding, the Mountain Lionsâ€TM offense seemed to be building momentum through the first four innings. After going down in order in the first, Sarah Cleland drew a walk in the second. They then got runners on first and second in the third inning and followed that by putting runners on second and third in the fourth. CU-Colorado Springs was unable to hit in the clutch, though, and failed to capitalize.
â€œBoth teams were a little bit nervous,â€ said Peterson. â€œThere wasnâ€TMt a hit until the third inning.â€
When Regis finally did hit, it made the most of it. After being held hitless through three innings by CU-Colorado Springs starter Amber Colton, a leadoff triple by Michelle Johnston and a sacrifice fly by Mariah Piper gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
In the fifth, Lindzy Molinaro singled with one out then scored on a triple by Erica Solano. Solano was erased when Lindsay Shandera threw her out at home on Sharita Richmond fielderâ€TMs choice. Richmond, though, stole second and scored on a throwing error by Colton.
Both triples were catchable, but a stiff crosswind and offseason rust contributed to CU-Colorado Springs misplaying both hits.
â€œBoth of those balls need to be caught,â€ said Peterson, who acknowledged â€" reluctantly â€" that recent inclement weather that forced practice to move inside might have hindered his outfielders. â€œWe havenâ€TMt had the opportunity to see many fly balls, but we expect great plays by our outfielders.â€
When the Mountain Lions went down in order in the fifth inning, doubts started creeping in. Those doubts were exiled in the sixth.
Carlson opened the inning with a 235-foot shot down the left field line. Shandera walked, followed by singles by Crystal Krebs and Jennifer Dykstra to load the bases. With one out, Anna Berngardâ€TMs hard grounder to shortstop scored the Mountain Lionsâ€TM second run when Regis catcher Amy Tarnoff couldnâ€TMt handle the throw. CU-Colorado Springs scored two more runs when Anna Schafer misplayed a Charlene Berg grounder.
â€œThe biggest play of the game was when Brittni got us going,â€ said Peterson. â€œWeâ€TMre very pleased with how we came back.â€
Regis kept applying pressure and loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning. Colton made two excellent defensive plays and struck out Johnston to end the threat.
â€œWe all know that Amberâ€TMs been in that position before,â€ said Peterson. â€œAs usual, she came up big for us.â€
Pool came up even bigger in Game 2. The senior frustrated her former junior college by nibbling at the corners and changing speeds, allowing no walks and only one hit in her complete-game performance. She retired 17 of the first 18 batters she faced, the lone exception reaching on an error.
Carlson was again the offensive catalyst, drilling a two-run double in the first inning that provided Pool with all the offense she would need. Kara Rainey added an RBI single in the seventh.
â€œWeâ€TMre glad to get these behind us,â€ said Peterson, whose team will face two Top 25 opponents in Phoenix. The Mountain Lions struggled against Lone Star conference teams, going 1-4, in last yearâ€TMs version of the crossover tournament, largely because they hadnâ€TMt played prior to heading to Arizona.
And while the large contingent of CU-Colorado Springs fans in attendance would probably have preferred that the Regis game was a little less tense, Peterson felt it validated his teamâ€TMs reputation for tenacity.
â€œTight ball games like that help us,â€ said Peterson. â€œWeâ€TMve won ten of our past 11 one-run games.â€
Including the first one of 2005.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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