CASTLE ROCK | Makayla Valle and Peytann Weiland met at the mound Oct. 14 with one big out between their Grandview softball team and a trip to the Class 5A state tournament.
Weiland, the Wolves’ junior catcher, had calming words for Valle, her batterymate for the past three years, then returned to her spot behind the plate for the crucial finishing sequence.
The two were reunited again jubilantly at home plate a few pitches later after Valle powered the ball past the final Ponderosa batter for her 10th strikeout of the game in a three-hit, 3-0 shutout that secured Grandview’s first trip to the 5A state softball tournament since 2015. The Wolves became one of the first set of 16 teams to gain entry in the 5A state tournament Oct. 21-22 at the Aurora Sports Park.
“I told Peytann before that last batter that I felt a lot of pressure, so she had to calm me down,” Valle said. “My emotions were everywhere, but I knew I had to keep my composure. …It felt like a moment of trust and success when it was over. It’s built all season long and to have that in a game that put us into the state tournament was awesome.”
Added Weiland: “I definitely had to call time because I knew she was feeling a little overwhelmed. I just had to say ‘Hey, we know what’s going to happen after this, but we still have to play calm and collected. She did incredible.”
Coach Liz Carter’s Grandview team came off an eight-win season in 2021 in which it missed the postseason entirely with a 2022 campaign that included winning the Centennial League championship and the No. 11 overall seed in regionals. The Wolves have 10 more wins than last season and counting.
In regional play, the Wolves used the same recipe that had been so successful in the regular season, hitting the cover off the ball and playing good defense with the hard-throwing Valle on the hill.
Grandview pounded out 18 hits against No. 22 Loveland in its opening game on the turf at Metzler Ranch Community Park, a game the Wolves ended in the sixth inning with a seven-run rally to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.
Valle, Weiland and senior Carmela Tejada each had three hits in the contest, junior Kristin Gallego homered twice and drove in three runs and Valle, junior Zoe Vondruska and freshman Sasha Kennedy each knocked in a pair as Grandview matched its season-high in runs. On the mound, Valle struck out nine hitters and allowed five earns runs in the victory.
The Wolves then moved on to a matchup with host and sixth-seeded Ponderosa — which they had lost to 5-4 in tournament play earlier in the season — and proceeded to snap the Mustangs’ eight-game winning streak and earn the first state berth.
Valle allowed just three hits in the game and ended up with 10 strikeouts on her way to her fifth shutout of the season and fourth in her last five games. The shutout means Carter is on the hook for donuts, as she has all season.
“We love donuts,” she joked.
The zero cut took some pressure off Grandview’s offense, which had just three hits itself.
The Wolves had a single run in the third inning and two more in the fourth as Kennedy (who had two of the hits after she had two hits and stole four bases in the opener) picked up an RBI and scored a run, as did Vondruska (who had a base hit) and sophomore Brooklyn Heil.
“Our seniors made regionals their freshman year and the last two years we missed it,” Carter said. “We knew we needed to win two games. We felt really good going into this and we were all going the same direction.”
Ponderosa rebounded from the loss to defeat Loveland 7-5 to earn the second berth from the regional in the state tournament, which will be seeded on Monday by the Colorado High School Activities Association Monday.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2022 CLASS 5A REGION 6 SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT
Oct. 14 at Metzler Ranch Community Park
Grandview 16, Loveland 6
Score by innings (r-h-e):
Loveland 004 020 — 6 8 5
Grandview 201 337 — 16 18 1
WP — Grandview: Makayla Valle (6 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 9 K). Grandview hitting: Makayla Valle 3-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 3 runs; Carmela Tejada 3-4, RBI, 2 SBs, run; Peytann Weiland 3-4; Kristin Gallego 2-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 runs; Zoe Vondruska 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI, 3 runs; Maya Sprague 2-3, RBI, run; Sasha Kennedy 2-4, 2 RBI, 4 SBs, 2 runs
Grandview 3, Ponderosa 0
Score by innings (r-h-e):
Grandview 001 200 0 — 3 3 1
Ponderosa 000 000 0 — 0 3 2
WP — Grandview: Makayla Valle (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 K). Grandview hitting: Sasha Kennedy 2-3, 3B, RBI, run; Zoe Vondruska 1-3, run; Brooklyn Heil run