Valerie Warszawski was in Buffalo, New York, two weeks earlier but on Aug. 19 she was playing for Mountain Vista High School for its season-opening home softball game against Continental League rival ThunderRidge.
Warszawski might not have been well-versed in the rivalry between the two Highlands Ranch schools but she singled home the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Vista's Golden Eagles an 8-7 victory.
“I was just trying to get a base hit in the outfield to score the runner,” said Warszawski, a slap hitter who was 3-for-5 in the game with two runs batted in. “I was very nervous. I really didn't know what to expect and what the competition was going to be like. I was excited. I'm happy. We won.”
Skylar Standen led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sydney Butler to bring up Warszawski, who claims softball in Buffalo is no different than in Colorado.
“It's windy and harder to breathe here, like for running,” said Warszawski who is a junior and has an older sister, senior Julia, who also plays on the Mountain Vista team. “Overall the softball is pretty similar. We moved like two weeks ago I just got here.”
There were a combined 23 hits in the game, 14 by Mountain Vista and nine by the ThunderRidge Grizzlies.
Rachel Lowrey had a solo home run and a two-run double for the Golden Eagles. Julia Warszawski and Ella Costa hit solo home runs while Lowrey, Lauren Falk and Morgan Hoselton each had two hits.
ThunderRidge scored three runs in the sixth inning and two more in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 7-all heading into the home half of the frame. Freshman starting pitcher Alyssa Hunter went 2-for-4 and belted a two-run homer in the seventh to tie the game.
Jorja Sierra had two ThunderRidge hits and drove in two runs and Payton Pacheco also had two RBI for the Grizzlies.
“Hitting is not ahead of pitching this early,” said Vista head coach Bret Grammerstorf. “When we scrimmage ourselves on Saturday, we didn't score a lot of runs so I think pitchers are still a little bit ahead. You get a mistake and we made them pay for it, that's for sure.
“There was an outstanding effort by all the girls, a little nerve-wracking, I'm sure, because we didn't even get to scrimmage this year, so this was our first time with live bullets. All in all, I was just telling them I've never seen six of these girls play. I got six girls returning and the rest of them I didn't know what they could do. I was impressed. I like what they can do.”
ThunderRidge coach Kevin McAllister liked the spirit he saw with his team.
“It was a great game,” he said. “It was a rival battle which never seems to disappoint. Our kids kept fighting their way back in. I like the fight in our kids. We were up for a little bit and got down and fought our way back. It was a good fight between two pretty good teams. Seemed like we were working a lot harder to get our runs.
“We've just had two weeks of practice and a few optionals. The whole COVID thing has definitely put a strain on us. We had no scrimmages. We're seeing what we really have. There is so much more this year because of the reduction of games. The majority of games we are playing are league games and there's no regional tournament. So every game means that much more. We've got to ingrain that in the kids' heads. We need every pitch and we need every win.”
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