By Will Petersen
For the Courier
When the hits come, the runs come. And when the runs come, they come in bunches for the Dakota Ridge softball team.
The Lady Eagles advanced to the 5A state tournament with three big innings in an 18-0 win over Northglenn and an 8-1 win over Grandview on Oct. 13 in the Region 8 tournament at Columbine High School.
Second-seeded Dakota Ridge (19-2) scored 11 runs in the second inning and seven in the third in the regional semifinal trouncing of Northglenn that ended early due to the 10-run mercy rule. The bats came alive in the fourth inning against Grandview as well, with the Lady Eagles scoring all eight of their runs.
“I feel like we’ve done that so many times this year. We kind of start off slow,” Dakota Ridge senior Kristyn Peters said, “but we all know it’s building up. We know a big inning is coming pretty soon.”
The slow start saw the 5A Jeffco League champion Lady Eagles down 1-0 against Grandview after three innings in the regional final. One fluky play in the bottom of the fourth though turned everything around.
With runners on first and second and nobody out, Dakota Ridge senior Morgan Wilhelm laid down a sacrifice bunt. Wilhelm bunted the ball perfectly toward the Grandview third basemen, who picked it up and fired toward first.
Unfortunately for Grandview the ball flew past the first baseman and kicked off the fence, squirting beyond the backing-up right fielder. Peters, who was on second before the play, scored easily as did Cassidy Creekmore, who was on first. In fact, the ball went so far away from any Grandview player that Wilhelm came around and scored as well, putting the Lady Eagles ahead 3-1.
“(Morgan) dropped a nice bunt. And, obviously, the overthrow is just something we’ve got to take advantage of,” Dakota Ridge head coach Dave Atencio said.
Dakota Ridge also took advantage of the extra out given to them. The team exploded for five more runs in the inning on seven hits, including a two-run home run by sophomore Sierra Jones.
“I just turned on that pitch. It was right there. It just set up perfectly for me,” Jones said of her towering blast to left field. She also homered in the first game.
Not to be lost in the three big offensive innings was the pitching the Lady Eagles got from senior Katie Stead and junior Rachelle Foos. Stead pitched a shutout in Game 1, giving up just one hit. Foos went all seven innings in Game 2, allowing just one run on three hits.