Evergreen rallies in seventh to top Devils
EAGLE – For six innings Thursday afternoon at the Eagle County Fairgrounds, the Eagle Valley softball team was in cruise control against the Evergreen Cougars. Starting pitcher Caitlyn Schmidt was looking to finish up a gem of a game heading into the top of the seventh inning with the Devils holding a 4-2 lead, having struck out six batters and giving up only two runs in her six innings of work. But Evergreen had other ideas. The Cougars rallied for four hit and five runs, one of which was unearned, to take a three-run lead before Eagle Valley’s last at-bat on the way to a 7-5 victory.The Devils managed one run in the bottom of the seventh when senior catcher Shannon Buhler beat a throw at home off a Morgan Strakbein hit, but that was it.
Schmidt counted for the last out after she rapped an Erica Buenger pitch right back to the mound and Buenger was able to track down the ball to make the toss to first.What had been a happy storyline for almost all of the afternoon ended with a disappointing finish, a collapse that head coach Brad Stiles attributed mostly to nerves. “We hit well in the first inning because we relaxed,” Stiles said. “We hit the ball maybe too well, because then we started trying to hit it harder than we needed to. There were opportunities we didn’t take. In both the sixth and seventh innings, we started to tighten up. It was a 4-2 game and they’re thinking, ‘Hey, we gotta hang onto this,’ and they tightened up and we didn’t make the plays that we should have made.”Eagle Valley got off to a fast start in the first inning scoring three runs off Buenger. Amy Strakbein smacked out a single and then was brought home by Buhler, who belted a double. Morgan Strakbein then walked to put two runners on before Schmidt cleared the bases with another double.The game was a defensive struggle after that. The Cougars managed two runs in the top of the third, the first of which came after Buenger walked and then crossed home plate off a Julia Chamberlain single that found its way up the middle of the infield.
Chamberlain was then brought home by Erin Doctor who belted a deep ball to center field that Whitney Beasley wasn’t able to reel in and ended up being a triple.For how shaky Schmidt was in the seventh, she was equally as dominant before that, overpowering Evergreen’s hitters with her fast ball.After giving up the two runs in the third inning, she held Evergreen to four at-bats in the fourth, three in the fifth and four again in the sixth. Afterward, the senior from Summit High School, who joined the Devils roster because her school didn’t field a team this year, was visibly upset about the loss, but said she was still pleased with how she pitched for the most part.”There was points where I was really up and then I had two of those innings where it felt like nothing worked,” she said. “After they got those runs, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, now we have to catch up,’ when they started scoring. It was hard for us to come back together and say, ‘Let’s stop making mistakes.'”
Added Stiles, “She had a great game. It’s just that in the seventh inning she tried to overthrow and it cost her. If she would have thrown like she was throwing in the third and fourth inning and throw strikes, she would have been OK.” The Devils other run came in the bottom of the sixth inning after they loaded the bases. Cassidy Warner singled a 0-1 pitch up the middle of the infield past the Cougars’ shortstop and second basemen to bring home Morgan Strakbein. The opportunity to score more runs in that inning came back to haunt Stiles’ team, however, after Schmidt and first basemen Kayla Phillips were left stranded.”I think that we were anxious and just wanted to get the inning over and had a few mental errors and it came back to bite us,” Buhler said. This will help us with the future with our next games.”The Devils host their own tournament today starting at 9 a.m. at the Gypsum Sports Complex.Nate Peterson is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at email@example.comVail Colorado