By Matt Glass
For the Courier
Dakota Ridge, coming off of a year in which it went 20-3, shared the 5A Jeffco League title, won a regional title, and advanced to the 5A Elite 8, was back at it Aug. 25, beating visiting Evergreen 15-1 at Dave Atencio Field.
The loss dropped Evergreen, coming off a 17-7 season and a spot in the 4A state quarterfinals, to 1-1.
Dakota Ridge started the season with a tough loss at ThunderRidge. However, the Lady Eagles bounced back nicely versus Evergreen. Pitcher Katie Stead gave up only one run, and Dakota Ridge looked like there was no recovery time needed from the ThunderRidge game. The offense was powered by sophomores Bailie Brooks and Sierra Jones, who each homered for the Lady Eagles.
Evergreen, which started the season with a 14-0 win over Thornton, couldn’t match Dakota Ridge’s offense. The lone bright spot was junior left fielder Kaia Noonan’s homer in the second inning.
“I just closed my eyes and swung. It felt really good being able to trot around second,” Noonan said.
It was one of just three hits for the Lady Cougars.
While Evergreen may have been overmatched and this year could be a great developmental year. Evergreen has only three returning starters. Two of the Lady Cougars’ starters are sophomores and another is a freshman.
As for Dakota Ridge, it is returning a strong team. Seven starters return from last year’s state quarterfinal team.
“We expect big things this year. We expect to be back in state,” Dakota Ridge head coach Dave Atencio said.
The future looks bright as well considering the play of starting sophomores Brooks and Jones, not to mention Stead’s pitching.
“I am most proud of Katie’s performance today, bouncing back from a tough loss,” Atencio said.
Cassidy Creekmore had three hits, while Bre Hixon, Jones, Morgan Wilhelm and Brooklynn York each had two of Dakota Ridge’s 14 hits off Evergreen pitching.
Jones scored three runs, while Creekmore, Hixon and York each scored twice.
Dakota Ridge scored in every frame, putting the game away with a six-run third inning.
Dakota Ridge plays host to Brighton on Aug. 29 before traveling to Westminster on Aug. 31 and hosting Mullen on Sept. 1.
Evergreen will play in the Boulder Creekside Classic Aug. 31-Sept. 1. Opponents scheduled are Scottsbluff (Neb.), Boulder and Thornton.