DELTA – Asked separately the last time they’d been seriously used as pitchers, Montezuma-Cortez second baseman Hailey Veach and third baseman Bri Comisky paused, then grinned, as both replied it probably happened during their 12U club ball days.
Saturday, both received innings inside the circle against an Aspen bunch that more closely resembled a 12U team than CHSAA Class 3A varsity.
“It’s kind of always hard when we play teams like this,” said Veach, who started and earned the win in Game 2 of the doubleheader at neutral Delta High School, which M-CHS won by scores of 23-1 and 21-6. “And I’d pitched some this summer, so I’ve kind of got the rhythm of it. But I felt good; it was nice to help back up Taiah, so her arm doesn’t get too tired.”
Game 1Wilson, the Lady Panthers ace, notched a three-inning complete-game victory in Game 1, allowing three hits and an unearned run in the bottom of the third. She struck out five, walked three and managed to twice strand a Lady Skiers at third base.
“I knew we could get on base and ... put some runs up. But I wasn’t expecting something like that,” said center fielder Lizzie Likes, who crashed a first-inning RBI-triple to plate leadoff hitter Allie Kibel and trigger the onslaught.
In Game 1, Montezuma-Cortez (7-0, 4-0 Western Slope) totaled a dozen runs in the top of the first inning against Aspen’s Hannah Smith.
Wilson came through with a 2-RBI single to key M-CHS’ six-run second, and first baseman Erin Brown’s two-out, 2-RBI single in the third plated Veach and left fielder Koral Jackson for the Lady Panthers’ final runs.
“We struggle with slower pitching,” Veach said, “so today I think our team really did well on waiting back and hitting the ball.”
“We’re always happy for a win,” agreed Comisky, “but it’s more fun when you’re struggling to beat the other team.”
Game 2Aspen (0-3, 0-3) managed to greet Veach in Game 2 with two early runs, manufactured through three base-on-balls, two wild pitches and a ground-out by catcher Phoenix Leeking, but Montezuma-Cortez had no problem answering against Lily Wolman.
Powered by a bases-clearing Likes double – plating Arianna Muniz, Emily Davidovich and Kibel – the Lady Panthers regained a 9-2 advantage. AHS managed to convert three more Veach walks, two wild pitches and a Eliza Marolt single into three optimistic second-inning runs but, aided by RBI-doubles by Davidovich, Kibel, Likes and Brown, M-CHS erupted for eight runs and cruised into the third inning ahead 17-5.
Head coach Anthony ‘Hippo’ Frost then gave the ball to Comisky, who surrendered a lead single to Nikki Harris. Able to steal both second and third bases and score on a wild delivery to Elleana Bone two hitters later, it would be Aspen’s last hurrah. Then, facing runners on first and second, the Panthers posted a triple play with a caught pop-up at first base, a force-out at second and a tag on the runner from first.
“It was just, like, instinct,” said Hickman, “to go to second without even knowing ... and roll up that triple play.”
“I was shocked, honestly,” Likes said. “But ... it was cool to watch, see everybody work as a team like that.”
“It was pretty satisfying,” said Comisky, who plated the mercy rule-enacting run in the bottom of the third with a single scoring Brown.
All told, Likes led the way offensively in Game 2 with four runs scored and five driven in on 3-for-4 hitting. Jackson went 3-3 with a walk and scored three times, and Wilson went 1-4 with two runs and three RBIs. Batting eighth and ninth, Muniz and Davidovich combined for four RBIs. Each Panther batter logged at least one RBI.
Up next, M-CHS will return to Delta Saturday, Sept. 5 to battle Basalt in a doubleheader at 11 a.m.
“I think Basalt’s going to be one of our better competitors, and so I think we’ll be working together more on the field,” said Veach. “We’ve been focusing on our batting just to try to get our swings to where we can hit the best we’re able.”
“We’re coming together really good,” Hickman said, acknowledging M-CHS’ quality 17-7, 15-3 routs of Rifle High School (3-3, 0-0 4A Western Slope) on the same diamond just days before. “Our team effort is amazing, how much we put in on the field and off the field to just become closer ... each day and each game.”