AURORA | One inning into Saturday’s Class 5A state semifinal contest, it looked like every one other game for the Eaglecrest softball team during its fantastic season.
A day after piling up 27 runs in two mercy-rule shortened wins at the Aurora Sports Park, the top-seeded Raptors put up a five-spot in the opening inning against fourth-seeded Fossil Ridge with a rally that included a grand slam by senior Braelyne Crenshaw.
The end result of the game, however, was quite different than Eaglecrest was used to, however. Coach Yvette Hendrian’s club launched a seven-run rally in the final inning, but didn’t do enough in between to avoid a heartbreaking 20-16 loss to the SaberCats, who went on to fall to 10th-seeded Legend in the state title game.
The Raptors’ only defeat to a Colorado team — which they beat 7-2 in the regular season — brought to an end a 22-2 season and ended shy of the program’s first trip to the 5A state championship game since it won the title in 2005. Eaglecrest also lost in last season’s semifinal to rival Cherokee Trail.
Crenshaw got the start in the circle for the Raptors in the semifinals, turning around to pitch after she allowed just one run to Pomona in Friday’s quarterfinals. She wriggled out of some first inning trouble with just one run allowed, then capped a five-run first inning for Eaglecrest with a massive grand slam off Fossil Ridge starter Jordan Ellis.
But a Raptors offense that ran like a well-oiled machine for the entire season sputtered in the middle innings, as it mustered just one run between the second and fifth innings on a bases loaded walk to Maddie Unrein to force home Brandee Morris. They also lost junior second baseman Shayelyn Allen (who homered twice and drove in nine runs the previous day) for several innings due to injury.
The SaberCats, meanwhile, countered with 11 runs in that same span to take control of the contest.
Eaglecrest pitchers Crenshaw, senior Mackenzie Hochstetler and sophomore Reese Waggoner all found the strike zone a bit inconsistent throughout the day and seemingly every break Fossil Ridge got, it took advantage.
Ellis reached on a strikeout when the ball got away from Morris and after what should have been the end of the inning, Mia Moddelmog’s two-out, two-strike grand slam and Rheanna Will’s following solo home run in the second inning quickly erased the Raptors’ early lead. Fossil Ridge leadoff hitter Kristen Reed cracked a two-run shot — one of five SaberCats’ home runs on a very gusty day — and Eaglecrest’s deficit grew to 12-6.
The Raptors pulled back three more runs in the sixth inning, including RBI base hits from Reese and Rylee Waggoner, to get within 12-9.
The pivotal inning proved to be the seventh, when Fossil Ridge exploded for eight runs, though it wasn’t without controversy.
Eaglecrest appeared to have the third out of the inning when shortstop Rachel Sabourin threw behind the SaberCats’ Rheanna Will at third base after a nice catch in right field by sophomore Kamryn Martinez.
Third baseman Hannah Jensen appeared to tag Will before she got back to the base, but she was ruled safe. Hendrian appealed to the home plate umpire, who upheld the original call.
The next batter, Amber King, hit a three-run home run to keep the rally going and the inning ended with Fossil Ridge holding a 20-9 advantage.
The Raptors found to the end with a seven-run rally in the seventh inning, an outburst begun by a double to the fence from Sabourin and capped with a two-run home run to center field by Morris to cut the game to four runs with two outs.
Delaney came on and struck out Alicia Fraire to end the game.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
FOSSIL RIDGE 20, EAGLECREST 16
Score by innings:
Fossil Ridge 153 300 8 — 20 17 3
Eaglecrest 500 103 7 — 16 16 2
FOSSIL RIDGE (ab-r-h-rbi)
Kristen Reed rf 4-5-4-4, Jayden Mercado 3b 5-3-1-0, Katie Delaney 1b-p 6-2-3-3, Mia Moddlemog 6-1-2-5, Rheanna Will ss 5-2-2-2, Rosie Philop 2b 4-0-2-0, Hayley Henderson 5-2-2-0, Jordan Ellis p 2-1-0-0, Amber King lf 3-3-1-3, Mia Moore cr 0-1-0-0. Totals 40-20-17-17. Pitching (ip-r-h-er-bb-so): Jordan Ellis (W, 6 2/3-16-16-16-4-4), Katie Delaney (Save, 1/3-0-0-0-0-1).
Brandee Morris c 5-3-1-2, Alicia Fraire lf 5-1-1-0, Rachel Sabourin ss 3-2-1-0, Kailey Wilson 1b 4-2-3-2, Braelyne Crenshaw p 5-3-3-5, Shayelyn Allen 2b 3-1-1-1, Maddie Unrein 2b 0-0-0-1, Mackenzie Hochstetler dh 1-0-1-0, Reese Waggoner p 4-0-2-1, Hannah Jensen 3b 4-1-1-1, Rylee Waggoner 5-0-2-2, Isabelle Coffman pr 0-2-0-0, Risa Segura pr 0-1-0-0. Totals 40-16-16-16. Pitching (ip-r-h-er-bb-so): Braelyne Crenshaw (1 2/3-6-6-6-3-5), Mackenzie Hochstetler (1-3-3-3-1-0), Reese Waggoner (L, 4 1/3-10-11-7-3-2).
2B — Fossil Ridge: Mia Moddlemog. Eaglecrest (3): Shayelyn Allen, Braelyne Crenshaw, Rachel Sabourin. 3B — Eaglecrest: Reese Waggoner. HR — Fossil Ridge (5): Mia Moddlemog (3 on in 2nd), Rheanna Will (solo in 2nd), Kristen Reed (solo in 3rd), Amber King (2 on in 7th), Katie Delaney (solo in 7th). Eaglecrest (2): Crenshaw (3 on in 1st), Brandee Morris (1 on in 7th)