For the second time this season, the La Junta and Rocky Ford high school softball teams met, this time Tuesday at Tippy Martinez Park.
There were some similarities in this game to the first, which was a 14-13 La Junta win. First of all, the Lady Tigers took off to a 5-0 lead, but secondly, the Lady Meloneers made a comeback. But the result was the same as the first as La Junta held on for a 6-5 victory.
"We have to eliminate errors," said LJ coach Roger Davis. "Those errors in the fifth inning really hurt us as far as letting them catch back up. But the girls played tough. One thing about it, they're getting used to playing in close games. Down the stretch, they did a great job."
"It wasn't a lot like the last game to me," said Rocky coach J.C. Carrica. "The last game we had more than 20 combined hits and 27 runs. It was a much better defensive battle and a much better pitching battle. Both teams cut the errors down about a third, even though there were some critical ones on both sides. But I'm happy with the way it turned out. We started behind the eight ball and that's always tough on a pitcher when you're behind by four runs and you have to go five innings before you start your first run. On the flip side, we have to throw strikes earlier in the count so we can move the ball around. we can't start 2-0 and start throwing across the plate."
The first two innings were scoreless, but the Lady Tigers took the lead with four runs in the bottom of the third. Danella Zamora led off with a double and she was bunted to third by Robyn Williams. Williams was safe on the play and in some confusion, she took second.
Zamora came home on Brittney Mackey's sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.
Hayley Keck continued the inning by drawing a walk, and Lexie Smith singled to score Wallace. An error on the play put Keck on third and Smith on second and both runners were brought hone on Hailey Vaughn's single.
The Lady Tigers added a run in the fourth. Wallace and Mackey both received a base on balls, and Wallace scored on Courtney Metzger's single.
The Lady Meloneers' comeback effort started with Ciarra Huckaby singling and Bailey Krueger getting on first base on an error. Some missed coverages allowed both runners to move up a base and both came home on Laura Whalen's single.
Sadie Brewer drew a walk to put runners on first and second. However, Chantae Rodriguez lined out to Wallace, who then touched second to retire Whalen.
Jolene Carrica also walked and Ashley Jaramillo was safe on an error. Kelly Long then singled to bring home Laney Nelson, who was courtesy-running for Brewer, and Sydney McElroy, who was courtesy-running for Carrica, cutting the La Junta lead to 5-4.
The Lady Tigers got a run back in the fifth as Justine Sutherland and Kaylee Springer both singled, and Zamora also singled to score Sutherland.
The Lady Meloneers got another rally going in the top of the seventh. Rodriguez and Jaramillo both got singles, and another single by Long drove home Rodriguez with one out. Rocky Ford, however, could not get the other runners home and La Junta held on for the victory.
Smith was the winning pitcher, and she allowed five runs and nine hits and she also had three strikeouts and six walks.
Brewer took the loss as she gave up six runs and nine hits with one strikeout and seven walks.
Leading the Lady Tiger offense was Zamora, who went 2-2 with a double and one RBI.
The Lady Meloneers were led by Long, who went 2-4 with three RBIs.
La Junta (11-7, 9-3 Tri-Peaks) will wrap up the regular season by hosting Burlington on Thursday. Game time at Tippy is at 4 p.m.
"It's another game we need to have," Davis said. "We have a possibility of getting into the top eight, but we have to win that game to have that possibility."
Rocky Ford (12-6, 8-3) will also end its regular season on Thursday by hosting Lamar. First pitch is 4 p.m. at Babcock Park.
"It means a lot more than it did before," coach Carrica said. "Lamar's moving up pretty quick in the rankings and La Junta will jump a couple more and we'll fall down. We have to make a game out of Lamar to hopefully get a bid into postseason regionals."
La Junta 6, Rocky Ford 5
Rocky Ford 000 040 1 - 5 9 2
La Junta 004 110 x - 6 9 2
Brewer (L) and Carrica. Smith (W) and Vaughn.