It's not usual to witness five-, six- or even seven-run rallies in high school girls softball games but Douglas County strung together 14 unanswered tallies to win the two-day, 15-team Don McCall tournament held in Castle Rock.
The Huskies, trailing 8-1 heading into the bottom of the third inning on Aug. 31, scored 14 runs in four innings to defeat Continental League rival Legend, 15-10, in the championship game played at the Douglas County softball diamond.
“We scored 14 unanswered runs and this team believes in themselves,” said Douglas County coach Brian Stebbins. “There is no quit. They made their minds up the first week of the season that they were not going to lay down for anybody. They are going to play hard and they did that.”
Legend sent 12 batters to the plate in the third inning, ushered tiring Huskies' starting pitcher Corell Breanna to the bench and scored seven runs to grab its 8-1 lead. Jesse Smith's two-run homer and two-run single by Steph Cardona highlighted the uprising.
Douglas County, now 7-0 on the season, scored nine runs in the fifth inning. The Huskies paraded 15 hitters to the plate and seven reached base before the Titans got an out. Smith relieved starter Janelle Gardner after Jenny Trapp's double with the bases loaded scored three runs.
“Everyone got on base that inning,” said Trapp. “We just kept on hitting. We didn't give up. I was just trying to hit the ball in play and elevate it so I could at least score a run if they caught it. I was lucky the hit got past them.”
In five tournament games, Trapp was 9-for-16 and scored seven runs.
“We've talked about Jenny since she was a freshman,” said Stebbins. “She'll be a four-year letter winner this year. I've had a lot of good softball players but she's the most complete softball player we have. She can play about five positions defensively. She is great to have in your lineup because she has great at-bats.”
Sam Hardy relieved Breanna, who had pitched nine innings in a 9-7 semifinal victory over Ponderosa earlier in the day. Hardy, a junior, allowed five runs and three hits in the third inning but then started keeping Legend batters off balance with her change-up in shutting out the Titans for three innings.
“The change-up is my go-to pitch,” said Hardy. “It's my favorite and I love the reaction I get from batters. They are just completely taken off guard. I didn't really mentally prepare myself as well as I should have when I came in to pitch. It really did take me a while to settle down.”
Legend (6-3) did score twice in the seventh after two girls were out but the Titans seemed to lose motivation after their seven-run third inning.
“It was like we felt like we'd already won the ball game or it was the lack of intensity,” said Legend coach Shelly Boyd. “I'm very proud of them. We're a very young team. This is the first time Legend has been in a championship game. Legend softball is on the map now.''
Ponderosa, which gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth in a semifinal loss to Douglas County, scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to capture third place with an 8-7 victory over Castle View.
The Mustangs committed 17 errors in the two games played Aug. 31.
“We played OK,” said Ponderosa coach Toby Tabola. “I liked the way we didn't give up. We kept a good attitude on the bench and the team. I'm disappointed with the errors again. We had eight errors in that game against DC. That can't happen. It happened last year and we're working hard to get better and I thought we were better but not in that game. All in all, I'm happy with the team and where we're headed but defensively we have to get better.”
Continental League teams Douglas County, Legend, Ponderosa and Castle View went a combined 11-0 in pool play to advance to the semifinals. The Huskies beat Palmer Ridge and Fountain Fort Carson by a combined score of 18-1. Legend outscored Denver East, Pine Creek and Lewis Palmer by a 26-5 margin, Ponderosa whipped Palmer, Florence and Pueblo Centennial, 14-2, while Castle View outscored Vista Ridge, LaJunta and Elizabeth, 30-1.
“It's a great tournament,” explained Tabola. “There is a little talent disparity between the top four, five or six teams and the rest of them. It would be nice if that narrowed a little but I love the tournament. It gives us plenty of competition.”
Ponderosa junior pitcher Ally Power threw a six-inning, perfect game in the 8-0 win over Pueblo Central. Power pitched 24 innings in the tournament, struck out 47 batters and allowed one earned run. She also hit two home runs against Douglas County.
“Ally had a good tournament,” said Tabola. “She's doing everything we can ask her to do. She stepped up and threw hard this weekend and produced with the bat too. What I love, even though we had eight errors in the DC game, she didn't get down on her teammates. She doesn't storm around. That's hard because we should have won that game.”