Senior Day True to its Name in Sweep
COLORADO SPRINGS â€" Three University of Colorado at Colorado Springs seniors celebrated Senior Day by hitting home runs to lift the Mountain Lions to an 11-6 victory over the Fort Lewis Skyhawks in Sundayâ€TMs second game and give UCCS a sweep of the dayâ€TMs doubleheader.
Brittni Carlson, Janine Ota and Sonia Reyes all went deep as the Mountain Lions (33-14, 22-14 Rock Mountain Athletic Conference) secured the fourth seed in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament.
â€œI think we represented the senior class well,â€ said Carlson. â€œIn the back of my mind I was thinking I wanted to go out with a bang.â€
UCCSâ€TM fourth senior, pitcher Amanda Ritchie, did not play due to a rib injury.
â€œWe would have loved to get Amanda in and we were this close because we knew she wanted to go in,â€ said UCCS coach Scott Peterson, who has judiciously kept his ace resting for the past two weeks in hopes of having her healthy for the playoffs.
And while Ritchie understands, and has stated previously that she agrees with, her coachesâ€TM decision, watching her final game at Mountain Lion Field and being unable to participate was difficult to say the least.
â€œIt was torture,â€ said Ritchie. â€œI wanted to play. It was my last opportunity to play on this field in a competitive game.â€
The losses eliminated Fort Lewis (24-24, 14-22 RMAC) from the conference tournament. Adams State grabbed the sixth and final seed by winning one of three games Sunday against Nebraska-Kearney.
The elimination came in heartbreaking fashion for the Skyhawks. Leading 10-7 in the opener, coach Pam Adams inserted ace Monica Chavez in the sixth inning in hopes of sealing the win. After retiring the first four batters she faced, Chavez took a nasty line drive by Ota off her forehead. Chavez was not only unable to continue in Game 1, but missed her scheduled start in Game 2 as well.
Since Fort Lewis starter Lauren Bails was ineligible for reentry, having been substituted for twice, Adams was forced to insert Cassidy Maine at pitcher. Maine (9-13), who is suffering from an injury very similar to Ritchieâ€TMs, quickly gave up a double to Ota and a single to Savannah Ledford. Sarah Brisky followed with a mammoth home run to left that tied the game.
But the Mountain Lions werenâ€TMt done. Reyes was hit by a pitch before Nicole Link reached on a fielderâ€TMs choice that registered the second out. Rachel Hancock legged out an infield single to third and Link, who was going on the play, surprised the Skyhawks by hustling her way to third. The next batter, Brianna Workman, fouled off three two-strike pitches before inducing a wild pitch that scored Link.
Workmanâ€TMs effort was encouraging. The sophomore has struggled mightily since returning from a prolonged illness.
â€œBri had an outstanding at bat,â€ said Peterson. â€œShe fouls off three or four pitches; the girl throws it away and the gameâ€TMs over.â€
Reyes belted a three-run shot to left field in the second inning to give UCCS a 4-1 lead in the nightcap.
â€œThat was on a hit and run and she just crushed it,â€ said Peterson, who then let slip a bit of his famous sense of humor. â€œI told her I should get 50 percent of the credit for that one.â€
Otaâ€TMs solo shot an inning later made is 5-1.
After Fort Lewis closed to 5-3 in the top of the fourth, UCCS added three in the bottom half of the inning when Lindsay Shandera and Ota drew bases-loaded walks and Hancock scored on a wild pitch. The runs were scored off Dayna Martin, who was pitching her first collegiate game by default. With Chavez and Maine unable to play because of injury and Bails (1-2) exhausted by extensive use, Adams was forced to use non-pitchers Martin and Kathryn Abbott in the final four innings.
While sheâ€TMs not a true pitcher, Abbott had no problem with the bat. The seniorâ€TMs three-run homer in the fifth inning kept Fort Lewis within striking distance at 8-6.
The Mountain Lions put the game away in the sixth when Shandera hit an RBI double and Carlson followed with a two-run homer.
â€œI honestly wasnâ€TMt trying to get a home run,â€ said Carlson. â€œI was just trying to get a hit.â€
Playing without their best pitcher, Ritchie, UCCS hurlers were good enough to let the offense win the game. Kym Cade threw 6 1/3 innings in the opener, allowing 10 runs, before Kaliegh Beekman (3-0) retired the final two batters. The Mountain Lionsâ€TM rally in the bottom half of the inning made Beekman the winner. Angie Heronema threw a complete game in the nightcap to improve to 7-8.
UCCS will open the RMAC tournament against Mesa State on Friday.
â€œI wanted to know that, in my last game, I went out good,â€ said Reyes as her fellow seniors nodded their agreement.
Thatâ€TMs exactly what they did.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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