GOLDEN — On Sept. 14, Wheat Ridge’s softball was in a bad spot. The Farmers had suffered an 11-0 loss to Chatfield. The defeat left the perennial Class 4A powerhouse with a 3-11 record and amid a …
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GOLDEN — On Sept. 14, Wheat Ridge’s softball was in a bad spot.
The Farmers had suffered an 11-0 loss to Chatfield. The defeat left the perennial Class 4A powerhouse with a 3-11 record and amid a 10-game losing streak.
“The beginning of our season was definitely the hardest,” Wheat Ridge senior catcher Isabella Martinez said. “In league we have definitely turned it on. We wanted to show how we can play as a young new team. Mentality everyone has turned it on and got it together.”
Fast-forward to Monday, Oct. 4, Wheat Ridge won its sixth straight 4A Jeffco League game with a 5-1 victory over rival Golden. The Farmers (11-12 record, 8-0 in league) and Demons (11-12, 5-3) were tied atop the conference heading into the key league game.
“Playing a tough non-league schedule really prepped us going into league,” Wheat Ridge coach Dave Thies said. “Obviously D’Evelyn, Conifer and Golden are all pretty good teams. We have gotten more consistent and the girls are believing in what they can do.”
Monday’s win gave Wheat Ridge a 1-game lead for the race for the 4A Jeffco title with 2 games to play. The Farmers wrapped up the conference title with a win over Green Mountain (Oct. 6) and Standley Lake (Oct. 7) last week.
“It’s so crazy,” said Martinez, who added she is surprised the Farmers worked their way to the conference title. “Something has just clicked and here we are.”
Wheat Ridge junior pitcher Elizabeth Uhl has been a big part of the surging Farmers. Uhl was key against Golden striking out a dozen while scattering four hits. She also had a 2-run home run in the top of the fourth inning to give the Farmers a 2-0 lead.
“It’s my junior year and huge for college recruiting,” Uhl said. “I want to do everything I can for my team since we lost so many seniors (nine) to graduation. It’s a chance for my future and I want to win.”
Golden has had just about the same remarkable rebound after a rough start. The Demons started the season with a 3-9 record before going on an 8-game winning streak that came to an end with the loss to Wheat Ridge.
Freshman sensation Madeline Stubenrauch brought the Demons within 2-1 after her double and scoring on a Wheat Ridge fielding error in the bottom of the fourth inning.
However, Wheat Ridge’s bats really came alive late with a 3-run top of the seventh inning. After sophomore Maya Dalton was hit by pitch to lead-off the inning Aryanna Palfy, Aaliyah Arellano, Emeri Ortega and Martinez all had hits to extend the Farmers’ lead to 5-1.
“That was huge,” Martinez said of the Farmers’ 3-run top of the seventh inning. “I think if we would have made some adjustments earlier the score would have been different, but we made adjustments when we needed to.”
Uhl took to the mound with a little more confidence and swagger with a 4-run lead.
“I like to relax myself and dance a little bit,” Uhl said warming up before the start of the bottom of the seventh inning. “I feel more comfortable. I’m in the zone and that circle is my safe space.”
Uhl struck out the first two Demon batters and a pop out to third base ended the game. The junior ace retired Golden in order in four of the seven innings.
“I told them we were going to go win league,” Thies said. “The heart and passion that we are seeing right now is helping out. It doesn’t hurt to have the pitcher that we have. She is one of the better pitchers in the state.”
Despite advancing to the 4A state semifinals last season with a 17-2 record, the Farmers’ numbers went down so far this year that Wheat Ridge didn’t field a JV squad this Fall.
“Coming back to Wheat Ridge I was used to having big numbers,” said Thies, who was on the coaching staff when the Farmers won four state titles from 2008 to 2014. “It was an eye-opener to see a program take a step backwards. I’m staying here and dedicated to bring some talent and get the numbers back up.”
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.
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