Diamond dynamite: Wheat Ridge secures softball title

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AURORA - To be a proper Farmer one needs to have commitment, dedication and the right tools.

If you have all three you have a chance for a blooming crop.

But if you then add some swagger and a ton of heart, then you have the 2013 Wheat Ridge Farmers, who beat Erie 4-0 to win 4A state championship Sunday at Aurora Sports Park.

Senior Jessica Salbato was near perfect throwing five hitless innings, and she was backed by her high-powered offense that attacked Erie early on, and just like that the Farmers have won their fourth state title in the past six years.

“I am just really proud of my entire team,” Salbato said. “It definitely wasn’t easy and coach (Marty Stricklett) told us it wouldn’t be. But it feels good to be state champs.”

Sophomore Ann Marie Torres, who right now as a sophomore might be the best hitter in the entire state, tripled in the first inning before being driven in by junior Analece Apodaca.

Torres then hit a huge two-run double in the fourth inning, as a part of a 3-for-4 two RBI day.

But give credit to Salbato, who not only held a Erie team that averaged a state best .441 average as a team to no runs, but she also had key hits in the victory over Erie and a game-tying RBI in the fifth inning of their win over Broomfield, which tied the game 4-4.

“She is so just tough. She is always positive and always ready to go. We are lucky she is on our side,” Stricklett said.

On their road to a state title Wheat Ridge beat Roosevelt 5-0, Mountain View 9-4, Broomfield 9-4 (in a game where they trailed late) and finally Erie.

The Farmers wrap up their season 24-1 with their only blemish coming in an 8-3 loss to 5A Standley Lake on Oct. 4. They finished a perfect 7-0 in 4A Jeffco.

“We could have gone a perfect 25-0 this season but we needed that loss to kind of get some things right and put us in check. It would have been fun to go perfect but it doesn’t matter we are still champs,” Stricklett said.

More impressively was the fact that at the beginning of the season Wheat Ridge certainly did not look championship worthy.

Not only did the Farmers lose all-time great Wheat Ridge players in Morgan Wilkie and Kayla Mathewson, but their first few practices of the season were so sloppy it had everyone concerned.

“The beginning of the season was a challenge for us,” Apodaca said. “But we knew we had a good team and we kept getting better and better. And now we are champs.”

Stricklett has helped produce and now extend a dynasty more than a half decade long.

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