Gaffes Waste Ritchie's Effort

By Doug Fitzgerald published April 9, 2006

GOLDEN â€" Eleven innings proved to be Amanda Ritchieâ€TMs limit Saturday.

Ritchie pitched 11 brilliant innings, earning a five-inning shutout victory in the opener, before finally running out of gas in her 12th frame as the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs had to settle for a disappointing split with the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers at CSM Softball Field.

Ritchie (16-2) threw a five-inning, complete game as the Mountain Lions took a 9-0 run-rule decision in the opener. The senior came on in relief in the third inning of Game 2 as UCCS lost 5-4 in nine innings.

“We relied on Amanda (today),” said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. “Amanda did a good job.”

Indeed, she pitched well enough that she should have gotten two wins, but mistakes, miscues and missed opportunities plagued the Mountain Lions. With the score tied at four after three innings, UCCS had a runner in scoring position in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth innings. Each time, they were left stranded.

“We had a ton of opportunities, we just left them out there,” said Peterson. “Somebodyâ€TMs got to step up and get the big base hit and we just didnâ€TMt get it.”

There were two instances that were particularly egregious. In the sixth inning, the Mountain Lions had Rachel Hancock on second and Savannah Ledford on first with two outs and clutch-hitting Lindsay Shandera on the plate. Mines starter Katie Kocman bounced an 0-1 pitch to the plate that hit catcher Beth Skidmoreâ€TMs shin pad and rolled nearly to the fence. Had Hancock taken off, she could have made it to third. If she stayed put, sheâ€TMd have also been fine. Instead, the freshman hesitated, started for third, then hesitated again.

She ended up getting picked off for the third out.

“That killed us,” said Peterson. “It was a bad baserunning mistake and I think she knows it.”

The second gaffe came in the top of the ninth. UCCS loaded the bases with only one out when Nicole Link hit a line drive that second baseman Melissa Stratton fielded on one hop. She underhanded it to second for the force out.

The problem was that Brittni Carlson, who was one third, though that the ball had been caught on the fly. Carlson was about 10 feet from home when she stopped and started to retreat to third. Ledford, who had been on second, was already on third, however, forcing Carlson to turn and head for hope. She was easily tagged out to end yet another Mountain Lion threat.

“I donâ€TMt know how we could ever simulate that (situation) in practice,” said Peterson. “To me, it looked like (Stratton) caught it. That one we canâ€TMt call a baserunning mistake.”

In the bottom of the ninth, Ritchie could no longer muster any magic. The Orediggers loaded the bases with one out. Ritchie dodged the first bullet by stabbing a sharp comebacker and getting the force out at home. She couldnâ€TMt dodge the second when she uncorked a wild pitch that brought the winning run home.

The cavalcade of gaffes came as quite a surprise to the UCCS fans, who significantly outnumbered the Mines fans, in attendance. The reason for that surprise was that the Mountain Lions played a nearly flawless game in the opener.

Ritchie allowed only three hits and was never in any serious danger. Offensively, the Mountain Lions got a thee-run homer by Ledford, a solo shot and a triple by Janine Ota and RBIs by Sonia Reyes and Carlson. They also got a single and three walks by Hancock, which turned into three runs for the leadoff hitter.

But as good as they played in the first game, the second game â€" and the four-game split that resulted â€" was foremost on the minds of UCCS players afterward.

“Team-wise, not just me, weâ€TMre really upset that we left so many runners on base,” said Peterson. “There were a lot of opportunities today; we just didnâ€TMt take advantage of them.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32IFFr.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson321BSo.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32OFJr.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32OFSR.
Sonia ReyesSonia Reyes13IFSo.
Sonia ReyesSonia Reyes133BJr.
Sonia ReyesSonia Reyes133BSR
Amanda RitchieAmanda Ritchie17PJr.
Amanda RitchieAmanda Ritchie17PJr.
Rachel HancockRachel Hancock42BSo.
Rachel HancockRachel Hancock42BSo.
Rachel HancockRachel Hancock42BJr.
Savannah LedfordSavannah Ledford24SS
Nicole LinkNicole Link00C/IFSo.
Nicole LinkNicole Link00C/IFSo.
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