Blanton's Walk-Off Homer Sparks UCCS to Doubleheader Sweep of Thunderwolves
COLORADO SPRINGS - Christina Blanton wants to be the next great University of Colorado at Colorado Springs hitter. She took a big step in creating her own legend Sunday.
Blanton's three-run, walk-off home run lifted the Mountain Lions to a 6-5 win in Sunday's opener and a doubleheader sweep of the Colorado State-Pueblo Thunderwolves at Mountain Lion Field.
Just a sophomore, Blanton leads UCCS with 26 RBIs and is second in home runs with seven. She aspires to be mentioned among the great UCCS hitters that include two NCAA home run champions and six All-Americans.
"I know Christina's got some goals for herself. She wants to be in that elite group," said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. "She wants to be the next one that's in that group and she took care of it today."
Like those great players from the past, which also includes current assistant coach Becki Pepper (formerly Leopoldus), Crystal Krebs, Stacy Haney and many others, Blanton is understated when it comes to her own accomplishments.
"Coach came up to me before my at bat and said he had complete confidence in me," she said. "I just wanted to make solid contact and help my teammates win the game.
"I do well under pressure - we all do - I saw the pitch and looked for solid contact and that's what I got."
The Mountain Lions won a battle of relievers in Game 2 as Jenna Mott threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings to preserved an 8-6 UCCS win.
Entering the bottom of the seventh down 5-3 in Sunday's opener, UCCS' Ashley Jordan led the inning off by being hit by a pitch. One out later, Anastos reached when pitcher Justine Bosio's throw to second on a ground ball went into center field.
With the table set, Blanton drilled a two-strike pitch well over the fence in left center.
"That was exciting, but we can't forget that (UCCS starting pitcher Stacy Ortiz) pitched an absolute gem," said Peterson. "She kept the off-balance."
True. That the Mountain Lions had the opportunity to win the game was thanks to Ortiz (4-7), who struck out 10 batters in a complete-game effort. Ortiz didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning and gutted out the final three frames despite giving up nine hits down the stretch.
A two-run homer in a four-hit first inning gave UCCS a 2-0 lead. Bosio (10-2), who came into the game sporting a 1.47 ERA, held the Mountain Lions to just five hits the rest of the way. Two of those, however, were a solo homer by Amanda Hathaway in the fourth and Blanton's game-winner.
Blanton, Mathewson and Landry Davis each had two hits in the opener.
Mott entered the nightcap in relief of starter Sarah McCauley in the fourth inning with the Mountain Lions leading 6-5 and promptly surrendered a double to Annalyse Garcia that tied the game (the run was charged to McCauley. Mott stymied the Thunderwolves the rest of the way, scattering four hits over the final three innings and striking out three.
Mott, a freshman from San Carlos, Calif., has now pitched 10 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings. Sunday, she outdueled CSU-Pueblo's Caitlyn Wambeke, who threw two-plus innings of solid relief.
Like they did in the opener, the Mountain Lions opened a two-run lead in the first inning. Blanton started the scoring with an RBI single and Traci Everett added a run-scoring groundout.
A two-run double by Mathewson in the second made it 4-1. After CSU-Pueblo added another run, UCCS added two more runs during a four-error gaffe-fest by the Thunderwolves in the third.
CSU-Pueblo (12-8, 8-6 RMAC) countered with four runs on five hits in the fourth to chase McCauley, who had been outstanding to that point. She finished, though, with six runs allowed, five earned, over 3 2/3 innings.
The Mountain Lions regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth when a throwing error by Bo Nuanez in a double steal allowed Anastos to scored from third. Ashley Jordan followed with an RBI single and Mott made the advantage stand.
With the wins, the Mountain Lions improved to 8-16, 5-10 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. UCCS has now won four straight.
UCCS also moved to within a whisker of clinching the 2009-10 Steel & Silver Series. The rivalry series between UCCS and CSU-Pueblo awards four points to the winner of the season series in each of the 10 sports sponsored by both schools and five points to the school whose student-athletes post the better cumulative GPA for the academic year. Having assured at least a split in softball, UCCS now holds a 22-10 lead with 23 points needed to clinch. One win in Monday's doubleheader against the Thunderwolves will officially allow UCCS to retain - for the fifth consecutive year - possession of the Ent Federal Credit Union Trophy.
"This is the thing: we've got a lot of new kids, we've got freshmen all over the place," said Peterson, who has eight first-year collegians on his roster. "I don't know if they realize the history that these two teams have. It's a great rivalry with great respect for the coaching staffs. A lot of our kids don't realize it; they just look at this as another game.
"They're going to come back tomorrow, there's no doubt. (Shane Showalter) is an outstanding coach and he'll have them ready. Hopefully our kids will be ready and we'll come back tomorrow and try to keep playing like this."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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