Eaton sophomore Allie Hobbs was taking a page out of Delta's Lily Lockhart's historic softball run in Delta. The hard-hitting slugger cranked a two-run shot in the bottom of the first inning to elevate the Reds to a 5-1 lead after one inning of play.
Hobbs, with five home runs on the season, clubbed the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning after the Panthers had rallied from an 11-1 deficit to tie the game at 14-14 in the top of the seventh.
Hobbs' two home runs netted her five RBIs in the game and led the Reds offense thrilling finish to a first round state playoff game for both teams on Friday afternoon at Aurora Sports Park.
Eaton picked up three RBIs apiece from seniors Karissa Hatchell and Sieara Price as the Reds took an 11-1 lead after three innings of play.
Delta scored first on Lockhart's 18th state-leading home run in the first inning. There was a long dry spell after that for the Panthers' offense.
Eaton's first-inning explosion included five runs on four hits, including Hobb's two-run shot, accompanied by a walk and a hit batter.
The Reds were still smoldering in the second inning where they scored four runs on five hits making their lead 9-1.
A two-run, three-hit third inning pumped Eaton's lead to 11-1 and the outlook for Delta fans was dismal indeed.
The Reds kept offensive pressure on with another two runs in the fourth.
Delta found a spark which led to five runs in the top of the fifth with Megan Sandoval's two-RBI single leading the way in a five-hit spree from the Panthers.
Senior Brynn Millett's solo shot in the bottom of the fifth gave the Reds a seemingly invincible 14-6 lead.
In the sixth, Delta second baseman Saydee Culver hit a double to the right-center field fence and was promply brought home by Lockhart's 19th home run of the season, giving her a total of 52 for four years varsity play. Lockhart has seven multiple-home run games this season.
Delta's five-hit seventh inning produced six runs to tie the game, with Sarah Parker's RBI single knotting the score at 14-14.
Early in Delta's rally, junior Shyanne Steele rapped a double to score one run and Sandoval's two-RBI single set up Parker's hit to tie the game.
Eaton's Hobbs was the first batter up in the top of the seventh and she swung late on a Lockhart pitch that cleared the right field fence on the fly for the winning run.
Both teams, according to game stats, had 16 hits in the game. Sandoval's 3-5 with four RBIs was a contributing factor for Delta. Lockhart was good for three RBIs with her three hits. Other three-hit performers for Delta included Jenna Sutliff and Saydee Culver. Culver and Steele had doubles for the Panthers in the loss.
Head Coach Steve Reiher had nothing but praise for his team. "Once we started chipping away it was just a matter of how we would be stopped. Our early miscues put us in a hole. So proud of our seniors, who have been starters from their freshman year."
Eaton advanced to the next round of play on Friday afternoon where it defeated La Junta, 13-3, and the right to face No. 2 Rocky Ford. The Meloneers prevailed 12-5 and secured a spot in the finals against Strasburg, the 2A No. 1 team. Rocky Ford was the better team Saturday and scored a 5-1 decision to capture the 2A State Softball Championship.
Three Delta High School softball players were honored with selections to the 3A All-Conference Softball team and two more are Honorable Mention selections. Lily Lockhart, Megan Sandoval and Jenna Sutliff are All-Conference selections with Saydee Culver and Sami Lane landing on the Honorable Mention squad.
In addition, Lockhart was chosen as the 3A Player of the Year for 2016.
Lockhart and Sandoval have also been selected to the Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports All State Team and will play in Westminister on Nov. 6.
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.