Cedaredge High School's softball team created an electric atmosphere with its enthusiasm last Friday during the early innings of a key 3A District 5 softball matchup. The Bruins built a 9-4 lead before Delta put together back-to-back seven and six-run innings to forge an improbable come-from-behind 19-9 victory.
Prior to the Cedaredge game, the Panthers visited Gunnison on Tuesday, Sept. 26, where they used a pair of eight-run innings to overpower the Cowboys 18-5.
An eight-run first inning in Gunnison was the catalyst for a one-sided contest. Delta's offense cooled off considerably the next three innings, scoring just two runs for a 10-0 lead going to the bottom of the fourth inning. Gunnison broke out the hitting sticks and plated five runs cutting Delta's lead in half, 10-5.
The Panthers were motivated by Gunnison's offensive eruption and responded with another eight-run inning in the top of the fifth to make the score 18-5. When Gunnison failed to score in the bottom of the inning, the 10-run rule ended the game.
Freshman Hailee Ruble's day included a two-hit day, including a home run and five RBIs for the Panthers. Freshman Keely Porter was one for four with three RBIs and Breanna Sprout had a two-RBI day for Delta.
Gunnison's Kyla Engleman had two doubles and an RBI to lead the Cowboys and Jade Fry had a triple and an RBI.
Ruble was the winning pitcher for the Panthers. She worked five innings, gave up three hits, five runs and struck out five batters.
Against Cedaredge the game started with the Bruins scoring a run in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Delta's half of the inning produced three runs on the strength of Jenna Sutliff's seventh home run of the season. Porter reached on a single and Sutliff's shot over the left field fence gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead.
Ruble hit the first of two doubles after Sutliff's home run and Alyssa Trujillo's single drove in Delta's third run of the inning.
The Bruins bounced back in the second inning with four runs of their own. Nicole Miller reached base on a single, Shelby Stone reached on an error, as did Elle Lewis and Kambry Hall had a hit. All four scored in the inning with Josie Hiatt's single scoring Hall to give the lead back to Cedaredge, 5-3.
Delta failed to score in the second inning.
Cedaredge kept its intensity and enthusiasm up in the top of the third with Katie Hyke (double), Hannah Gardner (walk) and Miller (double) reaching base and eventually scoring. A Hall double scored Miller to complete the three-run surge by the Bruins and put Cedaredge ahead 8-4.
Summer Young started the fourth inning with a single for the Bruins and eventually scored on a Ruble wild pitch and a 9-4 Bruins' lead.
Delta began its half of the fourth with Shyanne Steele reaching base after being hit by a pitch. Breana Sprout drew a walk and a ground out by Porter scored Steele. Sami Lane made it to base on an error and Sprout scored on the miscue. Lane came around the bases on hits by Sutliff and Ruble to score Delta's third run of the inning to cut Cedaredge's lead to 9-6.
The Bruins were under extra pressure from the Delta offense to begin the bottom of the fifth inning. Hits by Trujillo and Steele put runners on first and second. Sprout struck out for the first Delta out and Tatum Saddoris followed with another single. Porter reached base on an error forcing the Bruins to make a pitching change. Elle Lewis replaced Young in the circle and Lane greeted her with a single to drive in Saddoris. Sutliff's single plated Porter and Lane with a sacrifice fly from Ruble scoring Sutliff for Delta's sixth run of the inning. Ashley Lahoe was up next and became a baserunner on an error. A double off the bat of Trujillo, who started the inning with a single, scored Lahoe. Steele ended the inning with a flyout to center field, but not before the damage had been done in a seven-run explosion that gave Delta a 13-9 lead.
Three walks and three hits, two of which were extra base hits (double by Sutliff and a triple by Lahoe), helped the Panthers score six more runs to end the game 19-9.
Sutliff was superb at the plate with four hits (including two doubles and a home run), scored three times and finished the day with six RBIs. Trujillo also had four hits, with a triple and three RBIs. Ruble had two doubles, scored twice and knocked in two runs with Lahoe and Porter recording two RBIs each.
Hall was the top offensive player for Cedaredge with a double, scored twice and knocked in two runs. Lewis had two RBIs with Miller picking up two hits, including a double, scored twice and had an RBI. Hyke was 1-3 with a double and had an RBI.
Ruble was the winning pitcher earning her seventh win of the season.
Delta played a doubleheader in Cortez on Monday (Oct. 2) and hosted Basalt (Oct. 3). The Panthers complete their regular season schedule this Thursday (Oct. 5) in Aspen for doubleheader action.
For Delta coach Jerry Sandoval the nerves came out in a demanding game. "This is one reason why we don't look at the scoreboard. When the umpire says the game is over ... it's over then. We got a bit rattled and the key to getting us back on track was settling our young pitcher down. Once that happened all our players focused on getting through the stress." Sandoval admitted, "We're an emotional team. It got the best of us. Our chemistry is getting better."
Cedaredge coach Matt Hall shook his head in disbelief. "We were really relaxed with the big lead and then got too tense when the score got close. We are an inexperienced team, but they are a great group."
Cedaredge is in a must win scenario. To make it easier to reach the playoffs the Bruins would like to take care of business in their games with Gunnison (Oct. 3) and a doubleheader in Cortez Oct. 6.