While the final score indicates a blowout, the game against the Panthers at Montrose High School was a tight matchup for most of the evening with four lead changes until the Lady Indians found their stroke in the sixth inning.
“We didn’t play particularly well in the first five innings,” Montrose Head Coach Joe Bollinger said after the game. “With the past holiday weekend, we missed some practices and you could tell we were all a just a little out of sync.”
The Montrose win came behind the consistent pitching of freshman Rachel Hampton who found herself in a jam early on in the first inning with the bases loaded and already two runs scored. Hampton found a way out of that jam by striking out Delta second basewoman Samantha Holm to end the inning.
Down by two going into the bottom of the first inning, the Lady Indians wasted no time putting runs on the board. After Montrose shortstop Hannah Etchart walked to lead off the bottom of the first, out fielder Salina Rowland doubled to bring Etchart home. Then with two runners on later in the inning, catcher Rainer Ebelshiersher hit a single for an RBI with another run coming in off a bad throw to third by Delta catcher Jessie Brown. The inning ended with Montrose gaining the lead 3-2.
Both Hampton and Delta pitcher Tiffany Schaff seemed to set into their game for the next two innings as neither team were able to post any runs. The offensive action picked back up in the top of the fourth inning when Delta’s Holm led the inning off with a bunt that put her safely onto first. Following two strikeouts and a walk, Delta catcher Jesse Easter singled with one RBI that followed by another RBI that came off a single by third basewoman Lindsey Velasquez. The inning ended when Montrose third basewoman applied the perfect tag out to a sliding Easter at third.
The Panther 4-3 lead in the middle of the fourth inning wouldn’t last long. After giving up two walks and a perfect sacrifice bunt by Montrose’s Connor Culver to move the runners into scoring position, Nikki Rodgers doubled to bring in two, taking the lead from the Panthers, 5-4 at the end of the fourth.
Montrose pitcher Hampton found herself in another tight position in the fifth inning after giving up a single and beaning one batter. Her defense backed her up though with a fielder’s choice out at third, a groundout to first, and a pop out at center field to end the top half of the inning. The Lady Indians were able to extend their lead at the bottom half of the fifth when they were able to score one run after a barrage of walks and a pass ball.
Going into the sixth inning with a 6-4 lead, Hampton seemed to have her best inning yet on the mound. After giving up a lead-off single, Hampton struck out two Delta batters and ended the top half of the inning with a pop out.
Ebelshiersher got things going early in the bottom of the sixth by smashing a double that reached the center field fence. Her hit was followed by a double RBI by Rodgers. Sierra McKee kept things going by hitting a stand-up triple and scoring another run. At that point, Delta Head Coach Matt Hall went for a pitching change, bringing in Easter from left field.
Easter was unable to put an end to the Lady Indian momentum and after a barrage of walks, a bock, and several singles and another triple, the game ended with a Lady Indian victory by 10-run rule, 14-4.
While Bollinger said his team looked a little out of sync most of the game, he was happy to see that Hampton was able to hit her groove on the mound.
“Her nerves were a factor early on,” he said. But “she was able to settle down, throw hard and hit her spots at the plate. That’s when she started throwing really well.”
The Lady Indians will be playing in the Berthoud Tournament this weekend in Loveland, Colo., where Bollinger said he hopes his team will not let its opponents stay in the game as long as they did on Tuesday evening. The Lady Indians are now 3-2 and 1 tie on the season.