Grizzlies Fall One Comeback Short as Mesa Sweep Doubleheader

Chris Day
ASC Sports Information

After winning the 2008 and 2009 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference West Division titles with thrilling, come-from-behind regular-season ending wins over Mesa State College, the Adams State College Grizzlies needed just one more victory over the Mavericks to seal up a third straight RMAC Tournament berth. The teams closed out the 2010 regular season campaign Sunday at the ASC softball field.
However, the Grizzlies’ string of late-season heroics came up a single comeback short, as junior pitcher Sara Jordan picked up two wins and the game-winning RBI in the top of the seventh inning of Game 2 as the Mavericks posted a 14-12 win, in come-from-behind fashion after thumping the Grizzlies, 15-3 in Game 1.
Those victories, also keyed by a game-tying, fourth-inning grand slam and a 2-run, game-knotting homer from the bat of freshman third baseman Whitney Bailey allowed the NCAA Division II Central Region’s 10th-ranked Mavericks, now 20-18 overall, to improve to 18-18 in RMAC play while earning the No. 4 seed in next week’s conference tournament in Denver.
The Grizzlies, who had rallied to score 16 unanswered runs to win the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader between the same two teams, saw their season end with 16-22 overall and 15-21 RMAC records as both Regis and Nebraska-Kearney zoomed past the Grizzlies and into the RMAC Tournament with doubleheader sweeps over Colorado Mines and UC-Colorado Springs, respectively.
The Grizzlies began the day needing just a single win or a combination of losses by both the Rangers and Lopers to reach the RMAC Tournament but were not able to get either. The Rangers’ Bianca Holley pitched a no-hitter while driving in the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh to lift the Rangers to a 1-0 Game 1 win in Denver.  Holley then fanned five more Orediggers in Game 2 as the Rangers, who earned the tournament’s seventh seed despite entering the day in ninth place in the overall standings, to a 12-4 mercy-rule win over the Orediggers, who fell into the fifth seed.
Meanwhile, the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers, in tenth place at the start of the day, claimed 6-3 and 5-1 wins over the last place Mountain Lions while getting help from the Grizzlies and former last-place New Mexico Highlands, which took two games from Fort Lewis, to reach the RMAC Tournament for the ninth straight season.
After being stymied by Jordan and the Maverick bats, which pounded out a season-high 20 hits in Mesa State’s 6-inning, mercy-rule win, the Grizzlies nearly caught a break from mother nature as snow flurries hit the San Luis Valley delaying the start of Game 2 for approximately 45 minutes.
After RMAC umpires Tony Exum and Michael Hernandez started Game 2, the Mavericks continued to belt the Grizzlies, racking up four runs on five hits in the first two innings, including a 2-run homer by left fielder Danielle Valli, just the second of the sophomore’s season.
Meanwhile, Maverick freshman pitcher Wailana Borrero allowed just one hit to the Grizzlies in the first two innings.
With the snow flurries picking up in intensity, Exum then suspended the game for 10 minutes after the conclusion of the second inning before action resumed in the top of the third with a Jordan solo homer that put the Mavericks up 5-0.
However, the Grizzlies came roaring back as they scored nine runs in the bottom of the third to take a 9-5 lead.  Rebecca Lindquist, who had a 2-run single, and Lizzy Schossow, who cranked a 3-run, towering homer to left field provided the biggest blows in that rally as the Grizzlies chased Borrero from the game with Schossow’s game-tying blast, the eighth homer of her season, before two Maverick errors later in the inning allowed the Grizzlies to score four unearned runs against Jordan.However, the Grizzly lead would be short-lived as Bailey’s grand slam followed by a Lisa Pille RBI single that plated Ashlee Duffy put the Mavericks back on top 10-9 through 3 ½ innings.
Rachel Lovato, who replaced Grizzly starting pitcher Marissa Elsberry after Pille’s run-scoring hit, then had a quiet 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fifth before Grizzly reserve Andrea Brew, in the game because of an injury sustained by DJ Consonero late in the Game 1 loss, then hit her first career homer, a 3-run shot to left putting the Grizzlies back on top 12-10 after five.
However, Bailey, who went 7-for-10 with eight RBI in the doubleheader, then tied the game once again with her second homer in as many at bats.
With only one out, Duffy then followed Bailey’s homer with a double to left before JJ Johnson came in to run for her.
Pille then hit a sharp ball to Schossow at third, who alertly threw over to Selina Pacheco  to pick-off Johnson helping end the Mavericks’ go-ahead threat.
However, the Grizzlies were unable to take advantage of the momentum and a lead-off walk by Tarah Campagnola as Jordan got three straight outs, including an inning-ending strikeout in the bottom of the sixth.
The Mavericks then wasted little time in taking the lead for good in the seventh as Valli drew a lead-off walk before moving to second on a Katie Mitchell sacrifice.  After Lovato caught Gabriella Parra looking a third strike, Jordan then singled down the left field line pushing Valli around to score.
Maverick catcher Megan Smith, who had five RBIs on the day, then added an insurance run with a single as Jordan came around to score.
Jordan, now 11-9 on the year, then got both Sarah Lindquist and Pacheco to strike out swinging in the bottom of the seventh before Brew fouled off four straight 1-2 pitches.
However, Jordan eventually won the battle as Brew bounced out to Bailey to end the game.
Jordan allowed just four hits and three earned runs while striking out five Grizzlies in her 4 2/3 innings of relief work in Game 2 and also went 3-for-4 with three runs scored at the plate.  Duffy also went 3-for-4 as Lovato fell to 1-6 despite giving up five hits and three earned runs in her 3 1/3 innings of relief.
Bailey, who had just one homer coming into the day, also hit one in Game 1 as she went 5-for-5 in that contest leading the Maverick charge against Sarah Lindquist, who fell to 9-9 after being roughed up for 11 earned runs despite striking out seven Maverick hitters.
The Grizzly offense did bang out 21 total hits throughout the day as freshman centerfielder Katelyn Lovato went a combined 5-for-8 on the day while raising her batting average to an RMAC-best .523, the second best mark in the Grizzlies’ NCAA Division II history (1993-Present).
Lovato, who also ranks second in the NCAA Division II statistics, also extended her hitting streak to 38 consecutive games, just one short of the national record.
She finished the campaign with 78 total hits, the third most in the Grizzlies’ NCAA Division II history. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet