Excitement Not Lacking as Mountain Lions Sweep Highlands
LAS VEGAS, N.M. -- University of Colorado at Colorado Springs coach Scott Peterson got a little inspiration from an unlikely source.
His Mountain Lions were trailing by three coming to bat in the top of the seventh inning in the opening game of Sunday's doubleheader. As his team huddled before the inning, an article he read that morning in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel's online edition was on his mind.
"Mesa State was calling themselves Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe Comeback Kids' after winning two games in the seventh (inning) yesterday. I was thinking about that when I went out there and said Ã¢â‚¬Ëœyou know, we can put some hitters together, too,'" Peterson recalled. "I told them, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwe're going to score some runs, get the lead this inning and (pitcher Sarah McCauley) is going to shut down the bottom part of the order."
When the smoke cleared, the Mountain Lions had assembled the biggest come-from-behind, seventh-inning rally in UCCS history to defeat the New Mexico Highlands Cowgirls 10-8 at Brandt Field.
And as if to prove the first one wasn't a fluke, the Mountain Lions overcame another deficit in the nightcap before winning 8-7 thanks to Rachel Hancock's three-run homer in the 10th inning.
Down 7-3 going into the final inning of the opener, UCCS (10-5, 3-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) rallied for seven runs on nine hits, including a mammoth three-run home run by Tasha Pagdilao that tied the game.
Stacy Haney, Sarah Cleland and Amanda Hathaway each got hits to start the inning, with Hathaway's single bringing home Haney. That brought Pagdilao, who had been 1-for-7 to that point in the series, to the plate.
"I was thinking Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwith runners on, I'm hitting this out," said Pagdilao, who Peterson says has a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœslow heartbeat.' "No liners, no grounders, I'm hitting it out.
"'I'm going hard or going home.'"
She went hard. Very hard. Her 250-foot blast cleared the fence in right center, the deepest part of the park, and left what had been a raucous crowd numbed and silent.
It would have been an impressive comeback had it ended there, but the Mountain Lions found a little more in the tank with two outs. With Holly Jordan on second with a double, Hancock gave UCCS its first lead of the game with a run-scoring single. Hathaway, Haney and Cleland followed with consecutive singles to cap the frame.
The seven runs were the most by a UCCS team when trailing going into the seventh inning.
McCauley (4-2) validated Peterson's prediction by preserving the win in the bottom half of the inning. The freshman allowed an unearned run on five hits over four innings of relief.
Dominique Gonzalez (4-5) frustrated the Mountain Lions for six innings with an assortment of breaking pitches and precise location. Of the 18 outs recorded to that point, five were groundouts, six were infield popups and three were strikeouts.
The Mountain Lions had to come from behind in the second game as well, trailing 5-3 going into the top of the sixth inning. Two infield singles and a walk loaded the bases for Sarah Brisky, who singled up the middle and tied the game.
After two scoreless extra innings, Hancock came to bat with two outs, two runners on and the Highlands crowd again in full voice.
"The guys were yelling my name, saying my number and just hollering at me," said Hancock. "I was like, Ã¢â‚¬ËœI'm going to shut them up.'"
She did just that. She turned on a 1-0 pitch, sending it well beyond the fence in left field.
Highlands countered with a two-run shot by Diana Di Matteo in the bottom half of the inning, but Jordan struck out pinch hitter Demetria Dale and Pam Apodaca lined out to left to end the game.
Prior to the 10th inning, Jordan (3-0) had thrown 5 2/3 innings of shutout relief. She credited her success to some Saturday evening reading.
"I read over the confidence pages; how to get my confidence back up and what to do when you're not performing your best," she said, referring to books about the mental game provided by the coaching staff. "I read those and had those dominating words in my head.
"I felt a lot bigger and stronger and more confident."
Highlands starter Karlee Trione (0-7) made the 9.13 ERA she was sporting coming into the game look deceptive. After allowing three runs in the second, she retired 10 of the next 11 batters before Brisky's RBI single in the sixth. All eight runs she allowed were earned.
Peterson felt fortunate leaving Las Vegas with three wins in four games.
"That's the best Highlands team I've seen in eight years," he said. "That is a dang good club; they're going to win a lot of ballgames."
But not when Peterson reads the newspaper.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
|Additional News Stories|
|November 24, 2008||Peterson Announces 2009-10 Softball Recruiting Class||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball coach Scott Peterson announced Monday the signing of nine players, including two all-Colorado selections, for the 2009-10 season.|
|October 6, 2008||Mountain Lions Named an All-Academic Team||The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball team was named an all-academic team by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.|
|May 22, 2008||All-American Anastos Transfers to UCCS from Fort Hays State||Under ordinary circumstances, a coach brings in a player and hopes to develop her into an All-American.|
|May 8, 2008||Haney Adds Two More Awards to Her Growing Collection||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs center fielder Stacy Haney added two more awards to her impressive collection Thursday when she was named first-team academic All-District VII (College Division) and first-team Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-South Central Region.|
|May 7, 2008||Haney Named to Daktronics All-South Central Region First Team||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs senior center fielder Stacy Haney was named first-team all-South Central Region by Daktronics, it was announced Wednesday.|