With a final score of 23-22 one might surmise the athletic event watched was a football game. Instead, the contest was the result of play between Delta and Gunnison high schools in the Aug. 26 softball game played in Gunnison on a beautiful sunlit day. Neither team has had enough experience in the early season and the style of play reflected that.
Gunnison built an 8-2 advantage heading into the third inning. Miscues and errors in mental judgement marred play for both teams.
Delta, batting in the top of the third inning, began whittling away at the Cowboy lead without much hitting being responsible for much of the scoring. Cowboy pitching gave up four walks and two hit batters to allow Delta’s offense to score four runs as 10 batters paraded to the plate. Gunnison received a generous portion of unintended help in scoring four runs in the bottom of the frame when the Panthers allowed four walks, a single and odds and ends of mental miscues.
Delta’s fourth inning generated eight runs giving the Panthers a 14-12 lead only to have the Cowboys retake the lead, 18-14, on a six-run bottom half of the inning.
The Panthers were able to reclaim the lead, 19-18, in the top half of the fifth on a trio of hits, including Kaitlyn Carlquist’s two-RBI double. Gunnison put together a mini-rally and came back to tie the game on three singles and a pair of walks in its half of the inning.
Delta’s offense finally got a lift from its bats in the top of the seventh to score four runs and take a 23-19 lead. The Panthers had six hits, all singles, in the rally. Gunnison was not ready to fold its tent and call it quits. The Cowboys started a last-ditch rally which included four hits and a three-run surge. The rally fell short when Delta freshman pitcher Jill Robinson struck out the final two batters, leaving the tying run on third base.
Delta’s line score included 23 runs on 17 hits, 20 RBIs, 12 walks and 12 left on base. The Cowboys’ numbers were nearly identical for most categories; 22 runs, 15 hits, 20 RBIs, 13 walks and 13 runners left on base.
Robinson was the winning pitcher with 2.2 innings of work in which she gave up six runs while walking three and striking out three batters.
A post-game interview with the winning pitcher, Robinson, included the question of what was going through her mind on the game’s final hitter.
“I was thinking I can do this … I’ve done it before,” Robinson said. Some of the preparation for such a scenario may have come from practice sessions with her father and brother, who presented her with certain last minute potential scenarios on numerous occasions.
Delta head coach Jerry Sandoval was more than pleased with the win. Asked about the short end of an 8-2 deficit in the third inning, Sandoval had a reason for the dilema. “Inexperience ... we’ve got a lot of learning to do, Sandoval said. “We constantly move our players around to play different positions and until we get more playing time, we’ll learn by mistakes.”
Delta was in Eaton for a three-game weekend, beginning with a Friday, Aug. 30 contest against host Eaton at 4:30 p.m.