ARVADA — Five outs. That’s all the Chatfield Lady Chargers needed Oct. 14 at Youth Memorial Sports Complex to completely erase a 2011 meltdown in the 5A regionals.
But just like last year is a distant memory of the past, Chatfield moved on from a rain delay one day earlier that suspended the finish of its 5A Region 5 championship game with Grand Junction. The Lady Chargers’ focus was solely on finishing a job that they had started 24 hours earlier.
“It was definitely our whole motto this year of starting fresh and not looking back and moving forward,” Chatfield pitcher Rebecka Mintz said.
That’s exactly what Chatfield did, too.
Not only did Mintz hurl a three-hitter, allowing Grand Junction’s lone run in a restarted sixth inning, but the lanky Chatfield ace hit a two-run, first-inning home run that eventually held up in a weather-delayed 6-1 victory. The win sends third-seeded Chatfield (15-5-1) to this week’s 5A state tournament at Aurora Sports Complex on Oct. 19-20 for the first time in three seasons.
But it would be hard not to think that the Lady Chargers didn’t ponder the what-ifs of finishing off the Lady Tigers a day earlier, leading 3-0 when the game was suspended with a runner on and one out in the top of the sixth due to persistent rain.
“It was on my mind all night last night as well as everyone else,” Chatfield catcher Kaitlyn Saunders said. “We took in consideration that they were from far away and had to stay up here, contemplate what they were going to have to do. We prepared ourselves mentally for what we had to come to do today.”
Mintz concurred with those sentiments.
“We were all mentally prepared last night, and we were all thinking about what we wanted to do to come in here right where we left off,” the Colorado Academy student and University of Texas-Arlington prospect said.
The mental aspect of regionals is what Chatfield head coach Nicole Janssen said her team was lacking in 2011 when the Lady Chargers dropped back-to-back state-qualifying games to Ponderosa (5-3, eight innings) and Cherokee Trail (4-3). That was not a problem this go-around.
“The biggest thing I told my girls is we had this idea to come in here for three games. Last year, we made the mistake of coming in for two games,” Janssen said. “This year, we were mentally prepared for three. We were committed to three games. But we can’t let this game be over with the expectations of being up 3-0 and hope it would be good enough.”
It was more than enough, but the Lady Chargers, who’ve won nine of their last 10 games, didn’t rest on those laurels.
Even though 14th-seeded Grand Junction (17-5), which later lost 5-2 to Standley Lake in the consolation round, cut the deficit to 3-1 on Arrianna Diaz’s RBI single in the sixth, Chatfield retaliated with three insurance runs in the bottom of the inning — one on a wild pitch, another on Saunders’ RBI double and one more on Nicole Graham’s up-the-middle single. Chatfield’s other run — in the first inning — came on a Jessica Jarecki triple to right field, scoring Quinn Demtino.