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Discovery Canyon returns to state softball after day full of ups and downs
It unexpectedly required some late heroics, but Discovery Canyon won two of three games at the regional it hosted Saturday and earned a return trip to the state softball tournament.
The fourth-seeded Thunder experienced the full gamut of emotions at Four-Diamond Sports Complex. Their day started with a 16-1 blowout of No. 29 Palisade, then came a crushing 6-5 loss to No. 13 Broomfield in which Discovery Canyon nearly rallied from a four-run deficit.
That set up an elimination game against Palisade, which the Thunder won 9-8 on walk-off sacrifice fly from Shyloh Grover that scored McKenzie Peters. The theatrics were necessary only because the Bulldogs rallied from an 8-2 deficit to force a tie in the sixth inning, capping their rally on an inside-the-park grand slam after a hit to right field took an awkward skip past the fielder and to the wall.
“We did what we had to do, we won two games today,” said Discovery Canyon (18-4) coach Tanya Ramsay, who didn’t know where to begin recapping such an up-and-down day.
“Sometimes having a day like this can humble you a little bit, and I think that’s a good thing,” Ramsay added. “I definitely know that this group of girls is going to work hard, fight hard and get after it next weekend.”
Playing just their third season of full-fledged varsity softball, this will be Discovery Canyon’s second trip to state. They made it last season after sweeping a pair of regional games.
With the way things started Saturday, it looked like the regional again might pass without incident.
Palisade (12-9), featuring a roster of postseason newcomers, fought nerves in the opener and handed Discovery Canyon 10 errors in a game the Thunder finished off via run-rule in the fourth inning.
It really looking like things were destined to go Discovery Canyon’s way against Broomfield (14-7), as the Eagles couldn’t capitalize on a number of early opportunities in part because the Thunder turned three double plays on line drives to infielders.
The Eagles finally cashed in some chances and led 6-2 before Shelby Hetzel’s three-run triple made things interesting in the sixth.
Broomfield then sealed the regional title in the seventh, sending Discovery Canyon into a rematch with a Palisade team that was over its nerves and looked entirely different.
With Palisade not giving any help this time, Taryn Arcarese and the Thunder earned it. The senior shortstop hit a two-run home run in the first inning and a two-run double in the fourth as Discovery Canyon built a seemingly comfortable lead.
But that changed in the sixth, capped by Angela Gordon’s grand slam.
“That was just awesome,” Gordon said. “It was like, ‘Yes, we get a second chance. We’re not going to go home with a horrible score.’”
With the score tied 8-8, Peters reached on an error to open the seventh and was on third with one out when Grover lofted a fly ball to shallow right that was deep enough to end the game.
“I was just happy that I hit it and put it in play,” Grover said. “I knew that Mac would be there. It was good.”
As for the necessity of the play?
“It was a little frustrating, but we got our team together and we did what we had to do at the end,” Grover said.
The Thunder will open play in the 16-team state tournament Friday. After losing last year’s opener, they’re aware that the luxury of a loss is gone.
“I told the girls after the Broomfield loss that the good news is that it's October 13 and not October 19,” Ramsay said. “If you lose at state you go home and you turn in your uniform.
“This group is extremely hungry,” she added. “They’re not going to back down.”