Eagle Valley wins finale | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley wins finale

SPT EVSB Landin TS 10-04-08

GYPSUM, Colorado ” Most of the Eagle Valley softball players wore eye black for their game on Saturday. Wishful thinking.

In weather more suited for play on the gridiron, the Devils tried to hold onto summer for at least one more day. The warm thoughts worked as Eagle Valley rallied to beat Delta, 10-8, in its last game of the season.

“We’ve been a different ball club the last three weeks,” Eagle Valley coach Bill Beasley said. “The seniors wanted to go out with a win. They wanted to take another team out, and they did it.”

A steady drizzle greeted players and fans throughout the game, but Devils pitcher Narci Huffman said the chilly elements actually helped her on the mound. The senior fought her way through seven innings Saturday. Huffman gave up 13 hits, but struck out nine and left 12 Delta base runners stranded.

With the game on the line in the seventh inning, Huffman worked a perfect 1-2-3 frame, punching out the last batter she’ll ever face for Eagle Valley.

“When we get in trouble, I make this face when I’m pitching and it gives me good mojo,” Huffman said. “It kind of psychs out the batter. Sometimes it helps.”

“The thing about Narci is, she’s not a quitter,” Beasley said. “She’s going to throw every inning. Whatever happens, happens.”

The Devils’ offense didn’t knock any balls out of the park, but they put the ball in play enough to frustrate Delta. In the bottom of the first, Eagle Valley scored three runs despite not getting a hit. The Panthers committed three errors in the frame and six in the game.

Eagle Valley continued to pile up runs in the second. Alexis Ellsworth reached on a bunt single, and later scored on an Elise Byron hit. Both Byron and Emily Kingston crossed home plate in the frame to give the Devils a 6-1 lead. Kingston led Eagle Valley with three runs scored.

“Fortunately for us, we didn’t leave a lot of girls on base like we have in the past,” Beasley said. “We got the key hits when we needed too.”

The Panthers clawed back to knot the score 6-6 in the fifth inning. Brittany Conger singled to right, stole second, swiped third and scored on a throwing error to tie the game.

Eagle Valley responded with a run its half of the fifth, but Delta came back for two more for an 8-7 advantage in the sixth inning. The Devils were determined to send their seniors out winners, though. With the game tied 8-8, Rachel Landin provided the big hit for Eagle Valley. The junior ripped a single to center field to score Kingston and Byron for the 10-8 win.

“Rachel is probably one our better hitters that we have,” Beasley said. “Her timing has just been off a hair. We moved her up on the plate a little bit more, and she made contact.”

Huffman promptly shut down Delta in the seventh to seal the victory.

“I’m really glad (we got the win) because we knocked Delta out of the playoffs,” Huffman said. “We knocked Palisade out last week. It just felt good because they thought they were going to come in and beat us.”

The game was the last in black-and-red for Huffman, Kelsey Andrews, Kara Platt, Byron and Mariel Olivas.

Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or ismith@vaildaily.com.

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