ThunderRidge bats spoke quickly and often as the Grizzlies scored six runs in the first inning and went on to best Arapahoe 12-2 in the Sept. 6 non-league contest.
“Our team does have the tendency to swing the bat well, but we were held in check with only six hits in the last two games. Today was a breakout game for us and we scored some runs,” Grizzlies coach Jim Dollaghan said after the game. “The win means we are 5-4 in a non-league schedule against good teams, and I feel this will propel us as we start the league season next week.”
The Grizzlies opened the league season Sept. 9 at Ponderosa and continue the league campaign Sept. 13 at home against Castle View. The Castle View game is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. on the field at ThunderRidge High School.
Arapahoe coach Jeannie Krueger said she was surprised ThunderRidge got 17 hits off her freshman pitcher.
“Even though our pitcher throws well, they got some solid hits. Of course, if we had not made four errors in the first inning, they would have gotten just one run and it would have been a different game,” the coach said. “We played well last week but I thought we were a bit flat today. But we are still 2-2 in league and still looking to move up in the standings.”
The Warriors continued league play Sept. 10 against Eaglecrest and Sept 12 against Cherry Creek. Both games were scheduled on the softball field at DeKoevend Park. Arapahoe is on the road Sept. 17 at Cherokee Trail.
On Sept. 6, Arapahoe was the home team and Ashlynn Krueger was on the mound for the Warriors. ThunderRidge opened the game with back-to-back doubles and eventually scored six runs in the first inning.
In the bottom of the inning, sophomore Madison Whitefoot was the Grizzlies starting pitcher. She went four innings, gave up five hits and two earned runs and struck out four.
Her sister, senior Molly Whitefoot, helped provide run support as she went four-for-five and drove in three runs.
ThunderRidge collected a total of 17 hits by 10 of the Grizzlies players. Gabriella Smith was two for five with a pair of doubles and one RBI.
Smith, who plays shortstop and left field, said she had a good game, but the game wasn't about her because it was more important to see the way the team came together to play one of its best games of the young season.
“I wasn't surprised we hit the ball as well off a pretty good pitcher,” she said. “As a team, we feel we need to prove we deserve to be out here, no matter the competition we are up against.”
She described the win as a “button pusher.”
“We came into the game 4-4 and we felt this would determine the attitude we would have going into the league season,” Smith said. “We played well, it was a good game and a good way to go into the league season.”
Dollaghan said the Grizzlies are a junior-dominated team.
“We have one senior starter and two other seniors who are first-line reserves,” he said. “The players who aren't starting know their roles, so we always try to get as many players in the game as possible. We have players who know they may only called to pinch-hit one time or go into the game as a replacement for an inning. But they do their jobs and help us try to win games.”
The Arapahoe coach said she isn't making excuses, but the Warriors are a very young team.
“We have three freshman and five sophomores on our roster,” Krueger said after the game. “Freshman Ashlynn Krueger is our only healthy pitcher. Our other pitcher is on crutches. The young players do well at times and other times, not so well, because so many of our kids are still learning and adjusting to the pace and intensity of varsity softball.”
She said she feels the team needs to be more focused and intense as the Warriors play the upcoming important key league games.
“We have a lot of potential, I expect our team will keep getting better and, if all the girls come back, we should be a very good team next season,” the coach said.