Durango and Montezuma-Cortez were neck and neck for most of their softball contest on Thursday.
The Panthers, however, scored three runs in the sixth to pull away from the Demons and eventually win the game, 8-4.
“Our team stays together and we’re super tight,” said Cortez head coach Anthony Frost when asked what the difference in the game was. “We just stayed out of our heads; the girls are starting to mature and not let a bad play get them down.”
After two scoreless innings, Cortez struck first with three runs in the third. Allie Kibel started things off with a single and then Lizzie Likes and Koral Jackson hit back-to-back doubles to put MCHS up 2-0. Later, Hailey Veach hit a bloop single to drive in one more run.
Durango, however, roared back in the bottom of the inning to take the lead.
Kelly Arthur walked and stole second. Then, after a wild pitch, Arthur ran to third and scored when the throw went into the outfield.
Later in the inning, Alaysia Kremer crushed a home run over the center field fence to cut the lead to 3-2.
“Right when I hit I knew it (was a home run),” Kremer said. “I could feel the power off that ball – it was great.”
After that, Sydney Flores singled and Meah Mordecai hit a liner off the third baseman’s glove. Mia Baguskas then hit a single to bring Flores home and tie the game, 3-3. Tehya Barnes finished the rally with a single that brought home Mordecai and gave DHS the lead, 4-3.
“I’m really proud of us for keeping it together and having a lot of positivity,” Kremer said. “We got in that pitcher’s head and scored some runs.”
Carly Piccoli turned a double play for DHS in the fourth, snagging a line drive at second base and then getting the lead runner out at first.
Likes and Jackson, however, each knocked in another run and Cortez took the lead back in the fourth, 5-4.
Kremer walked in the bottom of the fourth and Mordecai singled in the fifth for DHS, but Cortez turned a double play and made a diving catch to help get out of those innings.
“Although we had runners reach base after that, we couldn’t get them home,” said DHS head coach John Bernazzani. “I think Cortez’s sticks made the difference hitting under pressure.”
Cortez was able to pull away in the sixth with a Kibel single, doubles from Likes and Jackson and then a single from Taiah Wilson. Cortez plated three in the inning and kept Durango from scoring the rest of the way to finish on top.
Likes got the win for Cortez, pitching all seven innings, even though Wilson was slated to start the game.
“Lizzie said she was feeling it so I put her in at pitcher,” coach Frost said. “I just went with it and believed in her.”
Flores, meanwhile, suffered the loss for DHS, throwing 5.1 innings before Teagan Kehm relieved her. “I thought Sydney was pitching great,” coach Bernazzani said. “She had good control today.”
Cortez improved to 3-0 with the win while Durango slipped to 2-1.
“It’s tough to lose a home opener,” Bernazzani said. “I can’t wait to play them again on their turf.”
DHS will be back in action on Saturday when it hosts Montrose for a doubleheader. The games are scheduled to start at noon and 2 p.m.