5As exploit the 4A Demons on the diamond

DHS softball happy to see the big schools leave after a 4-game sweep

In a game that’s essentially about scoring runs and getting the other side out, Durango High School softball coach John Bernazzani said the key is finding a weakness and exploiting it.

On Saturday, the Class 5A powerhouse Fruita Monument found the Demons’ weaknesses on the dirt and grass almost every time they came up to bat.

But a day after the Durango girls only could find goose eggs against 5A Grand Junction Central, they did a little exploiting of their own to grab their first runs of the season in doubleheader losses to the Wildcats.

On a sunny morning turned afternoon that wrapped up just before the stormclouds rolled in, the 4A Demons lost 13-3 and 20-5 to the Wildcats.

“We blinked (Friday), got eight (runs Saturday), so we always look at the positives,” Bernazzani said.

Although defensive struggles plagued the Demons in both games, Saturday’s “display of hitting was a lot better” against a Fruita Monument team of near-equal quality as Central, the one that beat Durango 12-0, 15-0 on Friday afternoon.

It just took a while to get started.

The Wildcats built a 10-0 lead by the middle of the fourth inning of Game 1 behind pitcher Jenni Sneddon, who allowed just five hits in the five-inning game.

Mariah O’Dell was 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs, and Makenzie DeCrow was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a two-run homer against Demons’ starting pitcher Lexy Vidunas.

Vidunas didn’t get much help from a defense that more often than not allowed fly balls to find the ground.

“We have to be better focused on defense,” Bernazzani said.

In the bottom of the fourth, Durango scored its first runs of the season. Sidney Corbin, who went 2-for-2 in Game 1, scored Mackenzie Sill with an RBI single before Corissa Bosick added two more with a two-RBI single.

The Demons’ comeback was cut short, though, by a Wildcats’ double play to end the fourth, and Sneddon got Durango’s first three batters to fly out in the fifth to end the game.

And Durango’s at-bat game got even better in Game 2, even if the defense didn’t.

The Demons totaled only four hits in the afternoon half of their doubleheader, but that actually was a positive: Fruita Monument pitcher Mallory Paulson walked 10 batters, hit one and threw five wild pitches.

The Durango girls still put some bats on bad pitches at times, but Bernazzani said their patience at the plate put runs on the board instead of putting balls in leather gloves.

Trailing 10-0 in the bottom of the third, the Demons scored three runs without getting a single hit.

“It may not be as glorious, especially for the fans,” Bernazzani said. “But I implored them to make the adjustments.

“We want to swing the bat at good pitches.”

Mercy Lashway did the best job of that, going 2-for-2 in Game 2 with two RBIs. Vidunas added the other two hits for Durango in her four at-bats.

“We did as best as we could in some places,” Lashway said. “We need to be a little more aggressive at the plate and communicate more.”

Still, the Demons couldn’t match the Wildcats’ firepower.

O’Dell hit another solo home run in the afternoon, and DeCrow again was a force at the plate, going 4-for-5 with five RBIs and another two-run homer – in the fourth inning as part of a five-run frame that put the game far out of reach.

Augusta Brockus took the loss for Durango in the circle.

The dual losses wrapped up a difficult opening weekend against a bigger class of competition for the Demons, who dropped to 0-4 on the season.

DHS is off two weeks before its next doubleheader Sept. 7 at Grand Junction and Sept. 8 at Montrose.

“It’s kind of a relief to get them out of the way and kind of have an open road the rest of the season,” said Lashway, daughter of Jim and Tabatha Lashway.

jsojourner@durangoherald.com