Upset bid falls short

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Ralston Valley walk-off home run in seventh sends Chatfield home

By Dan Johnson

AURORA — As Lexi Love goes, so goes the Chatfield softball team.

On Oct. 23 in the opening round of the Class 5A state softball tournament, Love was masterful – for six innings.

Locked in a scoreless tie with Jefferson County League champion Ralston Valley, the Chargers needed to get just three more outs to send the game into extra innings and give themselves more time to try and pull off the first round upset.

But, the 14th-seeded Chargers never got that opportunity as Ralston Valley’s Kelley Reeves hit a walk-off, three-run home run to give the No. 3 Mustangs a dramatic 3-0 victory over a determined Chargers squad at Aurora Sports Park.

It was the first trip to the state tournament in eight years for the Chargers (11-12), but they sure didn’t play like a team that hadn’t been on the big stage in quite a while.

Love was downright dominant on the hill and kept her team in the game. Love allowed just three hits on the afternoon and struck out five batters.

Unfortunately, the Chargers had just as difficult a time at the plate as the Mustangs, as they struggled to solve Ralston Valley pitcher, Meaghan Murphy, who allowed just two hits and struck out 11 batters.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Chargers were able to appreciate what had just transpired on the field.

“It was a great game and both teams played well,” Chatfield senior Jenna Dentino said. “We worked really hard to get (to state). It’s tough to lose, especially in a close game like this, but I think we all feel good about what we were able to do against a good team and what we accomplished this season.”

While seniors such as Love, Dentino and Sara Dillon leave the team, the future looks bright for the Chargers, who finished 2009 with an 11-12 record. Freshmen Becka Mintz and Alyssa Quintana are future stars and a core group of juniors, led by Kirbi McGinness and Janae Fritze, provide the Chargers with plenty of depth.

“To be able to make state in our final year is really special,” Dentino said. “We became really close as a team this year, both on and off the field. I know the girls that are coming back are going to keep working hard and are going to try and keep things moving forward for Chatfield softball.”