Cleland's Slam Helps UCCS Win Tournament Title at Mile High Invite

By Doug Fitzgerald published February 24, 2008

DENVER -- Sarah Cleland's sixth career grand slam lifted the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a 7-2 victory over the Colorado State-Pueblo Thunderwolves Sunday and the tournament title at the Mile High Invite.

The Mountain Lions lost their first game of the day 9-0 to the Metro State Roadrunners. UCCS and CSU-Pueblo each finished the tournament with a 4-1 record, but UCCS was named champion by virtue of the head-to-head win.

The Mountain Lions also gained a point in the Steel and Silver Series and now lead the rivalry standings against CSU-Pueblo 12-8.

The UCCS defense was outstanding, making several brilliant plays while committing just two errors for a .985 fielding percentage. Offensively, the Mountain Lions hit .373 over the five games with a .448 on base percentage. They also stole 16 bases on 19 attempts.

"We really concentrated on (defense) in practice this week, especially after what happened in Pueblo," said UCCS coach Scott Peterson, referring to his team's lackluster defensive performance in the season-opening tournament. "I think it showed."

Freshman pitcher Sarah McCauley earned two wins over the weekend, including Sunday's title game, while posting a 2.10 ERA over 10 innings.

"She's doing a great job," said Peterson. "She's sort of fearless right now; she's very even. She's putting the ball where she wants it and she doesn't seem to be afraid."

The Mountain Lions scored first in the championship game as Rachel Hancock singled to lead off the bottom of the first, stole second and scored on Stacy Haney's single up the middle.

CSU-Pueblo took the lead in the third with four singles, three with two out, to score twice. UCCS answered with emphasis in the bottom half of the inning. Hancock and Brianna Workman each singled before Haney drew a walk to load the bases. Cleland followed by depositing a 2-0 pitch over the fence in left center.

The homer extended Cleland's school-record for career grand slams.

The Mountain Lions added two insurance runs in the fifth. With one out and two on, Workman pushed a bunt between CSU-Pueblo pitcher Kelsey Swanberg and first baseman Kristen Krueger. Amanda Hathaway, who had been on second, never stopped running, catching the defense by surprise and scoring easily. Haney followed with an RBI single to make it 7-2.

McCauley improved to 3-1 with the win. Holly Jordan pitched a scoreless sixth before the game was called because of the tournament's time limit.

Saturday's first game -- or rather the first inning of Saturday's first game -- was a disaster. After starter Libby White (0-1) retired the first Metro State batter, after which seven straight Roadrunners (a walk and six hits including three home runs) reached base.

Stunned and down 6-0, UCCS never recovered. The Mountain Lions managed just four hits against Metro State starter Jessica Fisher. The Roadrunners added another two-run homer in the third and an RBI double in the fourth to hand the Mountain Lions their first run-rule loss of the season.

To their credit, the Mountain Lions recovered to beat CSU-Pueblo for the tournament championship.

"We had one bad inning for the entire weekend," said Peterson. "I think we're in for a good season when we play 30 innings and have only one bad one."

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14IFFr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14IFFr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14CJr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14IFFr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14IFFr.
Rachel HancockRachel Hancock42BSo.
Rachel HancockRachel Hancock42BSo.
Rachel HancockRachel Hancock42BJr.
Stacy HaneyStacy Haney21OFJr.
Stacy HaneyStacy Haney21OFSr.
Sarah McCauleySarah McCauley7P/IF
Sarah McCauleySarah McCauley7P/IF
Sarah McCauleySarah McCauley7P/IF
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