Softball: Darkness falls, ties game, 23-23 |

Softball: Darkness falls, ties game, 23-23

by Will Bublitz
Middle Park High School shortstop Kelsey Peterson throws to first base for an out in the second inning against St. Mary's Academy Tuesday. (Photo by Byron Hetzler)
ALL | Grand County Newspapers

If darkness had not stopped them short, Middle Park High’s softball team might have won its first game last weekend.

Instead, the Panther girls had to settle for a 23-23 tie on Friday with Steamboat Springs in an away game. On Saturday, Middle Park hosted its final home game, but lost to Sheridan, 19-1.

Friday’s game against Steamboat’s Sailors was a real slugfest with both teams trading the lead until nightfall forced play to end with the score tied.

In the first inning, Middle Park got on the scoreboard first with a single run. Becca Hugley got on base with a single and then was driven in by a triple blasted into the outfield by Jes Thamann.

The Sailors immediately retaliated in the bottom of the first by taking a lead, 3-1.

The second inning was almost identical to the first with the Panther duo of Hugley and Thamann scoring again. Hugley got on with another single, but this time Thamann smacked a home run over the outfield fence to tie the score, 3-3.

But once again, Steamboat’s batters got hot at the bottom of the inning to retake the lead with four more runs.

Two more runs were earned by Middle Park at the top of the third inning. Amanda Lange belted a double into the outfield and then was driven in by a homer hit by freshman Hannah Davidson.

Steamboat added to its lead with two more runs before the third inning ended.

Trailing 9-6 as the fourth inning began, the Panther girls were determined to make things happen and they did. Lange, Hugley and Thamann loaded the bases by batting singles. Emily Gerberding then hit another single to drive in Lange, followed by Katharine Woodard who walked to drive in Hugley.

With the bases still loaded, Kelsey Peterson then stepped to the plate and blasted a home run to clear the bases and put Middle Park into the lead.

But the Panther scoring spree in the fourth inning was not over yet. Hugley came up to bat for the second time and hit a single, followed by Thamann who also batted a single. With two runners on, Gerberding earned two more RBIs for the inning by hitting a hard line-drive down the first-base line to allow Hugley and Thamann to sprint home.

At the bottom of the fourth inning, the Sailors came back with three more runs, but it was not enough. The Panthers now held a 14-12 lead.

After singles by Hugley and Thamann, a walk by Gerberding loaded the bases at the top of the fifth inning. Then, Peterson handed Middle Park three more runs by belting a triple deep into the outfield.

But the Panthers’ lead was lost by the bottom of that inning as the Sailors’ made a major scoring surge that netted them 11 more runs.

Despite the setback, the Panther girls refused to give up.

At the top of the sixth inning, Katelyn Anderson and Lange both singled. They did not remain on base for long because Hugley connected with the ball and sent it sailing over the outfield fence for a home run.

Energized by that three-run homer, Middle Park’s girls kept up their attack. Gerberding, Woodard and Peterson all batted singles to load the bases. Katie Mattfield then walked to drive in Gerberding. With the bases still loaded, Anderson came up to bat and blasted the ball deep into the outfield in a triple that tied the score at 23-23.

Feeling the game’s momentum was now in their favor, the Panthers hung tough on defense and quickly shut down the Sailors’ at the bottom of the sixth inning. But as the seventh inning began, officials called the game due to darkness.

Thamann was Middle Park’s starting pitcher in the Steamboat game, earning two strikeouts. Anderson was her relief, taking over in the fifth inning.

“We held them in the sixth, and if the game hadn’t been called on account of darkness, I think we’d have won that game,” said Coach Jessica Yessen.

On Saturday, the Panthers hosted Sheridan. The game only went to four innings when the CHSAA 15-run rule was invoked, ending in a 19-1 loss for Middle Park.

“I think we were actually evenly matched against Sheridan, except in our pitching,” Yessen said. “Sheridan’s pitcher threw a lot of change-ups.”

The Panthers’ single run in their final home game came in the second inning. Anderson stepped to the plate and blasted a home run over the outfield fence.

Sheridan’s first score came in the first inning with a single run. It was followed by eight in the second inning, six in the third inning and four in the fourth inning.

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