It’s been the goal of the Mountain Vista softball team to advance into the final four of the state 5A tournament in each of the past five seasons. …
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It’s been the goal of the Mountain Vista softball team to
advance into the final four of the state 5A tournament in each of
the past five seasons.
The Golden Eagles finally did just that Oct. 18.
As the No. 4 seed in the 16-team field, Vista defeated
13th-seeded Pomona and fifth-seeded Chaparral Oct. 17 to advance
into the semifinals for the first time ever, where the Eagles were
stopped by an upset-minded ninth seed in Ralston Valley with a
score of 2-0 at the Aurora Sports Park.
The Mustangs (16-8), who were the 4A champion a year ago, went
on to lose to Legacy by a final of 4-1.
As for Mountain Vista, the Eagles finished their now historic
season at 20-4.
“When you get to this point, you never know what can happen,”
head coach Bret Grammerstorf said. “We’ve been trying to get to
this point and give ourselves a shot for years. We finally did
that, but it just didn’t work out for us.”
“We never made it to Saturday before, so that was a nice
feeling. Obviously we’d have liked to go a bit further, but we did
what we set out to do,” senior pitcher Kelly Unkrich said. “Today
just didn’t go so well.”
Ralston Valley junior hurler Meaghan Murphy played a big part in
making sure the Eagles would not book a trip to the 5A final. The
southpaw limited the number of opportunities for the Eagles by
allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out six and
blasted a solo home run over the center field fence on a 2-and-1
pitch during the second inning.
Murphy was not an unfamiliar foe. Vista defeated her back on
Sept. 2 by a 3-0 final. But Grammerstorf said she brought some new
stuff to the table over the weekend.
“She was better today,” he said. “She threw more rise balls,
more balls up in the zone than I think we saw the first time and
had our kids a little baffled.”
“I think we could have hit her,” senior Cedar Blazek said.
Blazek had one of the two Eagles’ hits on the day. “We had a great
weekend overall, but today was a bit flat. A couple of balls just
didn’t get through for us, and they made a few key plays.”
The Mustang defense did establish itself on this morning,
robbing the Eagles of several potential hits with a leaping snare
of a line drive or showing great range to gobble up a tough
grounder heading for the hole.
“They’re a good, athletic team and that’s what happens,”
Grammerstorf said. “A lot of those balls are probably through
against somebody else. You have to credit Ralston; they made great
plays and we just didn’t come up with a big hit when we needed
Offensively, Blazek beat a throw from the shortstop to gain an
infield hit with two outs during the first inning. Dani Peper had
the other hit, a leadoff single to right field in the fifth. Brooke
Healey reached base via a base on balls to start the third inning,
and Cam Smallwood reached on an error in the first inning.
Ralston Valley pushed its second and final run home in the third
when an infield single by Jenny Hedrick followed by an error
allowed Sydney Bell to score. The Mustangs nearly had another, but
Unkrich and Randi Applehans combined for a great defensive play as
Unkrich fielded a squeeze attempt and tossed to Applehans, who
turned and applied the tag on Bri Donahue for the out at home.
Unkrich worked six innings, scattering six hits and striking out
seven without issuing a walk in her final high school game.
“We’ve wanted to make it to Saturday for years, and to finally
do that and be part of that class is definitely great,” Blazek
said. “You always want to end your season with a win, but only one
team can say that. I’m definitely proud of what we’ve accomplished
— we set the standard for this program from now on.”
“Last year our motto was ‘leave your legacy’, and I think we did
that better this year.”
In the 2:30 p.m. contest Oct. 17, the Eagles won a quarterfinal
match-up with Continental League rival Chaparral.
Lauren Dalton led off the game with a solo home run while
Smallwood lined an RBI single to center field in the third, scoring
Hannah Antista for a 2-0 lead. Peper finished the scoring in the
sixth with a bloop single to right center, scoring Smallwood.
The Wolverines got a home run from Jessica Severinson in the
bottom of the third.
Unkrich worked seven innings, allowing four hits (none after the
third inning) and one walk with eight strikeouts.
Applehans blasted a two-run home run with two out in the second
inning, pacing the Eagles to an opening round victory in a 10 a.m.
start Oct. 17.
Vista pushed three more runs home in the sixth, with RBI singles
from Applehans and Dalton and a sacrifice fly off the bat of
Unkrich tossed a two-hitter, striking out four and walking
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