UCCS Stays Alive in RMAC Tournament
DENVER â€" Lindsay Shandera hit a three-run home run to lift the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a come-from-behind 8-6 victory over the Adams State Grizzlies Friday afternoon, allowing the Mountain Lions to stay alive in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament.
UCCS, the No. 4 seed, won its opener Friday morning, 4-3 over the No. 5 Mesa State Mavericks. The Mountain Lions then dropped a 6-3 decision to No. 1 Regis before topping No. 6 Adams State in an elimination game.
The Mountain Lions will face No. 3 Nebraska-Kearney at 9:30 Saturday morning. The winner of that game will advance to face No. 2 Colorado State-Pueblo at noon. The ultimate goal is a rematch with Regis, which will have to be beaten twice if any other team is to wrest the conference championship away from the Rangers.
For a while, it looked as if tomorrowâ€TMs schedule would be a moot point for UCCS. Trailing Adams State 5-1 starting the bottom of the fourth inning, the Mountain Lions were staring elimination in the face. Prior to batting in the bottom half of the inning, they huddled.
â€œWe started the game really flat,â€ said Shandera. â€œWe all got really motivated when we realized we didnâ€TMt want the season to end. Everyone dug deep.â€
UCCS loaded the bases with two outs and Shandera drew a walk to close to 5-2. Brittni Carlson followed with a clutch, three-run triple to tie the score.
â€œBrittni stepped up like a senior,â€ said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. â€œFor four years sheâ€TMs come through with the big hit.â€
When a Jacquie Rhomberg home run put the Grizzlies up 6-5 in the sixth inning, it set the stage for Shanderaâ€TMs heroics in the bottom half of the inning. That she was given a chance to hit surprised Peterson since Adams State had avoided giving the junior anything remotely close to the strike zone, walking her twice and hitting her with a pitch.
â€œWe thought they were going to pitch (Shandera) inside again because first base was open,â€ said Peterson. â€œShe went down and got a pitch and just crushed it.â€
Freshman pitcher Kym Cade (6-3) made the moment possible by keeping UCCS within striking distance against one of the RMACâ€TMs most potent offenses.
â€œKym did exactly what weâ€TMre always saying; she kept us in the game,â€ said Peterson.
The elimination game was set up by a loss to top-seeded Regis in the dayâ€TMs second game. Senior Amanda Ritchie (18-4) held the Rangers to just four hits but was hurt by five walks in her first game back from a painful rib injury.
â€œAmanda pitched well for not having thrown for three weeks,â€ said Peterson.
UCCS opened the day with a nine-inning win over Mesa State during which Angie Heronema threw a complete-game victory. The freshman allowed just one earned run (three overall) on six hits while walking two and striking out eight.
â€œAngie threw an absolute gem,â€ said Peterson.
UCCS opened the scoring by plating three in the bottom of the fourth inning. Sonia Reyes had an RBI ground out and two more runs scored on a Megan Cushman single.
After Mesa State tied the game in the fifth, the teams swapped zeroes until the bottom of the ninth inning. With Rachel Hancock on second, Jessica Dinkel fielded a Shandera hopper and stepped on the bag for the second out. Hancock broke for third on the play and Dinkel, hoping to end the inning, threw to third. Her toss was errant, however, and Hancock raced home with the winning run.
It was a fitting finish considering that Mesa State committed six errors in the game.
â€œOur offense came through when we needed it,â€ said Heronema. â€œIt was so big to get that first game.â€
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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