AURORA | Waiting was the hardest part, but it proved well worth it to the Grandview softball team Friday afternoon.
Ten days after their Centennial League showdown with Cherokee Trail began and was subsequently suspended by inclement weather, the Wolves finished off a 3-1 victory that essentially wrapped up their second straight league championship.
Senior catcher Sydni Odegard hit a solo home run that nearly clipped the top corner of the scoreboard in right field in the sixth inning to build on the 2-1 lead Grandview brought over from the Sept. 29 opening and senior pitcher Courtney Browne got some help from her defense and worked around trouble in the final innings to earn the win.
“I’ve been watching Cherokee Trail all season and I knew they weren’t going to be an easy bunch to beat,” said Wolves coach Dave Thies, whose team finished the regular season 13-6.
“I’m proud of our girls, they came and executed and they really wanted it,” he added. “They believe in themselves and there’s a lot of passion. We’re ready to go to regionals. The new season starts next weekend.”
The victory lifted the defending Class 5A state champion Wolves to 6-1 in Centennial League play, same as the Cougars, with the winner of the head-to-head matchup taking the league title per league bylaws. Mullen also had one loss, but Smoky Hill took care of the Mustangs’ title hopes with a 15-12 victory late Friday that also secured the Buffs a spot in the postseason.
The Wolves will receive the top seed from the Centennial League when 5A district seeding comes out on Sunday and expects to play host to a district tournament on Oct. 17 at the Aurora Sports Park, site of the 5A state tournament the next week.
Coach Caley Mitchell’s Cherokee Trail team had its 11-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 15-4, but still should get a high seed in the postseason.
“I think we played a great game, we just left runners in scoring position too many times and we didn’t have the timely hits we needed,” said Mitchell, whose team lost for the first time since Sept. 8 against Legend.
“Grandview is a great team with experience in big time games,” she added. “It’s kind of a bummer, but we’ll still get a good seed going into regionals.”
When the game originally started, the Cougars took a first-inning lead on a Meghan Medhus’ RBI single, but Odegard’s two-run double in the bottom half of the inning gave the Wolves the 2-1 edge when the game was halted.
When the game restarted, Grandview threatened to add to the lead, but Alex Velazquez was called out at home plate as she tried to score on a ground ball to the right side of the infield.
Browne said she dislikes restarted games because it takes her a few innings to settle in and the Cougars nearly took advantage in the fourth inning when Medhus singled, Sonoma Olson was hit by a pitch and Kourtney Kellogg sacrificed runners into scoring position with a bunt. Alyssa Yoshida then hit a comebacker to Browne, who threw to Tori Woolums at first base for the second out and Woolums ran down and tagged out pinch runner Delaney Cox, who had broken for third on contact.
“I take a couple of innings to get into my groove, so having a shortened game shortens the amount of time I have to get started,” said Browne, who also had to pitch a 1 1/2-inning restarted game against Eaglecrest on Wednesday (a 9-8 walk-off win for Grandview).
“To have to come out and be on right away is tough,” she continued. “Honestly I was just trying to do my part and keep things manageable for the team behind me.”
Grandview threatened to add to its lead again when Terran Caldwell doubled to open the fifth inning and went to third with one out on Taryn Moan’s sacrifice, but Chloe Knapp caught Browne’s fly ball in center and made a strong throw to the infield to keep Caldwell from trying to score. Medhus’ leaping catch of Velazquez’s rising smash to left field ended the rally.
With one out in the sixth inning, Odegard looked to hit something hard and she did when she crushed the first pitch from Cherokee Trail pitcher Audrey Pickett way over the 190 foot mark in right field and nearly off the large scoreboard behind the fence for her first home run since the opening game of the season Aug. 31.
“I was just trying to get a really hard base hit and get on and start something,” Odegard said. “I just swung at a pitch that looked good and it just went. I knew from the second it went off the bat that it was gone.”
In the seventh inning, Velazquez made a huge defensive play when she charged Kaitlynn Roenfeldt’s hit to left field and threw to third base to beat runner Alyssa Berteaux and get a force out. Woolums fielded Skylar Higens’ grounder and stepped on first to end the game.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
GRANDVIEW 3, CHEROKEE TRAIL 1
Score by innings (r-h-e):
Cherokee Trail 100 000 0 — 1 7 1
Grandview 200 001 x — 3 5 0
CHEROKEE TRAIL (ab-r-h-rbi)
Skylar Higens 1b 4-1-1-0, Chloe Knapp cf 2-0-1-0, Meghan Medhus lf 2-0-2-1, Sonoma Olson dp 2-0-0-0, Kourtney Kellogg c 2-0-0-0, Alyssa Yoshida ss 3-0-1-0, Sydney Hinton 3b 1-0-0-0, Alyssa Berteaux 3b 1-0-0-0, Audrey Pickett p 3-0-2-0, Makenzi Strong rf 1-0-0-0, Kaitlynn Roenfeldt ph-rf 2-0-0-0. Totals 23-1-7-1. Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so): Audrey Pickett (L, 6-5-3-2-1-3).
Courtney Browne p 2-0-0-0, Alex Velazquez lf 3-1-1-0, Loghan Thomas 2b 3-0-0-0, Sydni Odegard c 3-1-2-3, JJ Visintin ss 3-0-0-0, Sophie Herrera 3b 3-0-0-0, Jordyn McDaniel rf 2-0-0-0, Terran Caldwell cf 2-0-1-0, Taryn Moan dp 1-0-1-0, Tori Woolums 1b 0-0-0-0, Alexa Stolarski pr 0-1-0-0. Totals 22-5-3-3. Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so): Courtney Browne (W, 7-7-1-1-1-5).
2B — Grandview: Terran Caldwell, Sydni Odegard. HR — Grandview: Odegard (solo in 6th inning).