Rebels finally top Bears

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By Dan Johnson

In her ideal scenario, Danielle Steele ends the game with a towering home run.

She’ll have to settle for hustle and a bit of luck.

While it wasn’t the prettiest way to score a game-winning run, Columbine was just happy to finally be on the positive side of the scoreboard against Bear Creek.

Thanks to a throwing error by the Bear Creek third baseman, Steele’s grounder to third with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning proved to be the winning hit as Lindsey Kroonenberg scored from second base, giving the Rebels a much-needed 1-0 Class 5A Jefferson County League win.

“I ran down the line as hard I could,” Steele said. “(Bear Creek’s third baseman) had all the pressure on her, especially with a runner on second, to try and get me out.”

The Bears owned the Rebels in 2007, beating them three times. All three victories came in big games, with Bear Creek beating Columbine at the Dave Sanders Tournament, in league play (the Bears won the title by virtue of the win over Columbine) and in the state semifinals.

“They took everything away from us last year,” said pitcher Kelsey O’Brien, who struck out 16 batters. “It feels great to finally get them.”

The victory on Sept. 16 was not only important from a confidence standpoint for Columbine, but from a season-saving one as well. A loss could’ve hampered the Rebels’ postseason hopes, but with the win and a victory over Green Mountain on Sept. 18, the Rebels are 3-2 in Jeffco League play and locked in a four-way tie for third place).

“We obviously struggled without Kelsey early in the season,” Columbine coach Robin Ortiz said. “We have some work to do, but the girls are getting better every game, and this one was huge for us.”

Bear Creek struggled all game against O’Brien, who is still not quite 100 percent healed from her double broken wrists she sustained over the summer. The Bears managed just five hits off O’Brien.

Bear Creek’s Mallorie Sularski looked equally as good as O’Brien in defeat. While Sularski isn’t as overpowering as O’Brien, she’s every bit as effective. Sularski struck out 10 and scattered nine hits over her 10 innings of work.

After struggling all game, Bear Creek had its first two batters reach base in the 10th inning, but O’Brien struck out two of the next three batters to end the scoring threat.

“I think this really motivates us for the rest of the season,” O'Brien said.