Ballard Settles in to Lift Mountain Lions to Split Against Powerhouse Metro State
COLORADO SPRINGS - Jessika Anastos, Christina Blanton and Sarah McCauley each drove in three runs and Shelby Ballard threw five solid innings as the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs beat the No. 10-ranked Metro State Roadrunners 10-2 to salvage a split of Saturday's doubleheader.
The Roadrunners scored four runs in the first inning and held on for a 7-3 win in the opener.
Anastos went 4-for-6 on the day while Tasha Pagdilao was 4-for-5.
"They were the team that had everything to lose. We had nothing to lose coming into this weekend," said Anastos. "For whatever reason, we were much more confident coming in against a better team."
UCCS became only the second team to split a four-game series against the Roadrunners, who are the top-ranked team in the Central Region, this season. Regis also split its four games against Metro State.
Amber Roundtree singled and Kellie Nishikida homered to give Metro State a quick lead to start off Game 2. From that point, though, Ballard (2-7) was nearly untouchable, retiring 12 of the final 14 batters she faced against the RMAC's best-hitting lineup.
"I was just mad; I missed the pitch and kind of piped it down the middle," said Ballard of the home run pitch. "I knew I just had to come back and not let it get to me. I felt like I had a lot of (defensive) backup, so I was confident."
Making the performance more remarkable was that Ballard was tagged for four runs on five hits in just 1.1 innings in UCCS' 15-3 loss on Friday.
"Shelby got hammered yesterday, so we talked about that last night," said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. "Whatever she did today, she made great adjustments. The first inning, I think she was a little nervous but she was throwing hard the last couple of innings."
UCCS gave Ballard (2-7) the lead with three runs in the bottom of the first. Two scored on a Blanton single although only one was credited as an RBI. Blanton scored the third run on McCauley's triple down the right field line.
The Mountain Lions double the advantage in the third inning. Blanton ripped a two-run double and scored on a McCauley single. McCauley was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fourth to make it 7-2.
Anastos ended the game with a three-run homer with two outs in the fifth to invoke the NCAA's mercy rule. It was Anastos' second walk-off home run of the season.
"We all know that Jess is a very special player," said Peterson. "We said when we came in (for the fifth inning) that we needed three (runs). We said that if Jess comes up, she could get it. They had to pitch to her because of what (Pagdilao) did yesterday."
Pagdilao, of course, hit a grand slam on Friday after the Roadrunners loaded the bases by pitching around Anastos. The junior from Lahaina, Hawaii, is hitting .474 since March 14.
"Tasha's just going up there really confident," said Anastos. "She's been really stepping up the past few weeks."
The Roadrunners got four runs on four hits in the first inning of Saturday's opener, highlighted by Sarah Rusch's two-run homer. UCCS got one back in the bottom of the inning on a Pagdilao RBI double.
Rusch's second home run of the game made it 5-1 in the fifth. UCCS answered with Ashley Jordan's solo shot in the bottom of the inning.
A two-run shot by Tara Mickelson in the seventh gave Metro State a 7-2 lead.
Anastos hit a solo shot for UCCS in the bottom half, but that was as close as the Mountain Lions would get. Anastos' two home runs on the day and three for the series gave the junior 20 for the season. She leads the NCAA with 0.61 home runs per game and is still on pace to break the NCAA record of 0.52 per game set by UCCS alum Crystal Krebs in 2004.
"What came out of this weekend is that we now know we can play with some of these better teams," said Peterson. "I couldn't be more proud of them."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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|July 14, 2009||Pepper Joins UCCS Coaching Staff||When University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball coach Scott Peterson looked to fill out his coaching staff, he investigated numerous avenues and explored several candidates.|
|May 21, 2009||Anastos Named Third-Team All-American||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs first baseman Jessika Anastos was named 2009 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division II third-team All-American, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced late Wednesday.|
|May 14, 2009||Anastos Named First-Team All-Region||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs first baseman Jessika Anastos was named to the 2009 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division II All-Central Region first team, the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association announced Thursday.|
|April 29, 2009||Anastos Named RMAC Player of the Year, Jordan Named to All-RMAC Third Team||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs first baseman Jessika Anastos was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference player of the year, the RMAC announced Wednesday.|
|April 28, 2009||Krebs Named to RMAC All-Time Team||Former University of Colorado at Colorado Springs star Crystal Krebs was among 12 players in RMAC softball history to be named to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference All-Time Team, the conference announced Tuesday.|