Avenge loss from last week
While local softball teams spent this past May waiting for the snow to melt so they can get on the fields to practice, several of the players from the Isotopes hit the road to practice in Gunnison and compete in a tournament in Alamosa.
The off-season work appeared to have paid off as the Isotopes, sponsored by The Store and Treasury Liquors, opened the 2008 competitive league season on fire, rattling off nine wins in a row to take possession of first place.
The streak included wins over league heavyweights such as the Last Steep, the Airheads and last year’s champions, the Lobar.
The Isotopes and the Lobar came together for the second time at Gothic Field on Monday, July 7 just a week after their first meeting.
This time the Lobar came at the Isotopes with a full squad bent on avenging their previous loss and putting an end to the Isotopes’ winning streak. And while the men for both teams did most of the talking prior to the game, it was the play of the women, specifically on defense, that made the difference.
Mark Schellhorn gave the Isotopes their first and only lead of the game pushing a single to right center to drive in a run.
The Lobar responded scoring five unanswered runs over the course of the next two innings.
Ronnie Hughes started it off with a double and scoring on a single by Brian Murphy to deep left center in the bottom of the first inning.
The Lobar women held the Isotopes hitless in the top of the second with a couple of outstanding plays. Melissa Neuner charged in on a shallow fly to left center to scoop the ball out of the air for the first out and Heather Duryea snagged a grounder at third base and tagged the runner for the third out.
Michael Villanueva led off for the Lobar in the bottom of the second inning with a stand up triple to ignite a four-run rally. Lori Adair drove Villanueva home with a sacrifice fly RBI and Duryea drove in one more run with a double up the middle.
Neuner, with the help of a bad toss, pushed two more Lobar runs in and by the top of the third inning the Lobar had a 5-1 lead.
The Isotopes offense was hitless for the second inning in a row but their defense held in the bottom of the third looking for an answer to the Lobar lead.
The Isotopes threatened in the top of the fourth inning with a couple base hits to put runners on with Jared Locke at bat. Locke stroked a high, fly ball to right center that got lost in the wind and dropped allowing one run to score.
Carrie Moore tapped a fly ball to shallow center looking to drop and push more runs in but Neuner was there again for the snag to end the Isotopes rally before it got started.
Off-season Lobar acquisition Mike Deaeuble doubled and scored on a single by Duryea but the Isotopes defense retired three of the next four Lobar hitters to keep the game well within reach with two innings left to play.
Base hits from Cole Sanford and Scott Isensee set the Isotopes up for another run at the Lobar lead in the top of the fifth inning. Barb Peters joined in on offense with an RBI single to left and a single from Jeff Snyder had the bases loaded for the Isotopes with one out.
But the women of the Lobar came through once again. Duryea pulled in a ground ball at third and tossed to Adair at home plate for the force and Neuner snagged a fly ball, her fifth of the game, at the warning track to maintain a 6-3 Lobar lead.
The Lobar added one more run in the bottom of the fifth inning when Adair drove in a run and were poised to blow the game open in the bottom of the sixth inning had it not been for Isotopes outfielder Terann Maudsley.
With the bases loaded and one out, Lobar hitter Ian Mason jacked a high fly ball to deep center field. Maudsley turned and started sprinting to make a running grab at the fence. As the Lobar runners started backtracking to tag up, Maudsley whipped the ball to her cutoff man who turned to make the double play to end the inning and leaving the Isotopes one last chance in their final at bat.
Carrie Moore led off the top of the seventh with a single and Cole Sanford drove a deep fly ball to right field looking to push Moore home.
But Lobar right fielder Brigid Piccaro was ready and backpedaled deep into the outfield for the grab to deny Sanford and hold Moore at first.
While the catch was clutch, holding Moore at first was key as the Lobar infield turned the next ground ball into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game with a 7-3 win.