ROCKY FORD — It was a back-and-forth affair as the fourth-ranked Rocky Ford High School softball team hosted eighth-ranked La Junta Thursday at Babcock Park.

The Lady Meloneers took an early lead, but a six-run third put the Lady Tigers in front. Rocky Ford made a late comeback attempt, but it was not enough as the Lady Tigers held on for a 14-13 win.

"Both teams hit the ball very well today," said LJ coach Roger Davis. "We got some defensive plays at the end. It was a little bit of everything today, but the girls hung in there, kept hitting the ball all day long and got a win."

"That's probably the best fight I've seen in one of my teams in the four years I've been here," said Rocky coach J.C. Carrica. "It's disappointing and there were a lot of errors. The kids know what they did wrong and I don't have to jump on them. They're harder on themselves than I am at this point in time. I told them I appreciated the fight. La Junta came in hot and they could have 10-runned us pretty quick the way they were playing. But we kept putting the ball in play, playing station to station and tried to fight back and make a game of it and we did. I'm disappointed with the outcome, but not with the effort."

La Junta took the first lead of the game with a run in the top of the first. Courtney Metzger hit the first pitch of the game for a triple and she came home on Hailey Vaughn's double.

Rocky took the lead in the bottom of the first on a two-run homer by Ashlee Jaramillo.

The Lady Meloneers scored two more runs in the second. Ally Bartholomew led off by reaching first base on an error and Ciarra Huckaby followed with a single. An error on the play allowed Bartholomew to score and a passed ball brought Huckaby home and Rocky led 4-1.

The Lady Tigers' third inning started with Hayley Keck's single and Vaughn followed with a two-run homer to cut the deficit to 4-3. Justine Sutherland singled and Kaylee Springer doubled and Danella Zamora was safe on a error and Sutherland and Springer both scored to give La Junta a 5-4 lead.

Robin Wallace was also safe on an error and Zamora scored on the play. Wallace advanced to second on the error and she scored on Brittany Mackey's single.

La Junta scored four more runs in the fourth. Vaughn led off with a double and Sutherland was safe on another error which allowed Vaughn to score. Sutherland eventually got to third and she came home on Springer's sacrifice fly.

Zamora then singled and took third on another Rocky miscue. Wallace singled home Zamora, and Wallace scored on Metzger's single and the Lady Tigers had an 11-4 lead.

Rocky responded with four runs of its own in its half of the fourth. Huckaby led off with a double and Sadie Brewer drew a walk. Chantae Rodriguez singled to score Huckaby, and Jolene Carrica walked to load the bases.

Jaramillo also walked to drive home Brewer, and Kelly Long singled to drive home Rodriguez and Jaden Minjarez, who was courtesy-running for Carrica.

The Lady Tigers put three more runs on the board in the top of the fifth. Sutherland, Zamora and Wallace all walked to load the bases and Mackey doubled home all three runners and La Junta had a 14-8 lead.

The Lady Meloneers answered with five runs in the bottom of the fifth. Huckaby had a leadoff single and an error put her on third. Bailey Krueger singled home Huckaby, and another error put Krueger on second. Laney Nelson also singled and Brewer was safe on an error to load the bases.

Rodriguez's single scored Krueger and Nelson, and Carrica singled home Brewer. Rodriguez, however, was thrown out at the plate.

Jaramillo singled to bring home Minjarez and the La Junta lead was cut to 14-13.

Both teams put runners on base in the final two innings, but no more runs were scored.

La Junta had 16 hits and it was led by Vaughn, who went 4-5 with a home run, two doubles and three RBIs, and Metzger, who was 4-5 with a triple and one RBI. Wallace went 2-3 and Mackey went 2-4 with a double and four RBIs.

Rocky Ford collected 13 hits and it was led by Huckaby, who went 3-4 including a double, Carrica, who went 2-3 with one RBI, Jaramillo, who went 2-3 with a home run and three RBIs, Krueger, who went 2-4 with one RBI, and Rodriguez, who went 2-5 with three RBIs.

Lexie Smith earned the win as she allowed 13 runs and 13 hits and she had five strikeouts and five walks.

Brewer took the loss as she gave up 14 runs and 16 hits and she struck out two, walked three and hit two batters.

La Junta (7-6, 5-2 Tri-Peaks) will host St. Mary's on Saturday. First pitch is at 10 a.m. at Tippy Martinez Park.

"It will be a tough game," Davis said. "Lamar went up there and got beat last weekend. St. Mary's has a good pitcher and she pitched well against us the first game up there. It's a big league game and we have to come and play."

Rocky Ford (10-5, 6-2) will next play at James Irwin on Sept. 30.

"We have all next week off and we play James Irwin in a doubleheader," coach Carrica said. "Then we come back as we are at La Junta, and then we have Lamar here at home the following week. The second week of October is always a big week. It's rivalry week and you just see where the cards lie and hopefully the RPI will keep us in a place where we can host a wild card regional."

La Junta 14, Rocky Ford 13

La Junta 106 430 0 — 14 16 5

Rocky Ford 220 450 0 — 13 13 6

Smith (W) and Vaughn. Brewer (L) and Carrica. HR — LJ: Vaughn (3rd inn., 1 on, 2 out); RF: Jaramillo (1st inn., 1 on, 2 out).