LONGMONT — When the Silver Creek High School softball team surveyed Longmont’s lineup prior to Tuesday’s game, the coaches and players targeted Sierra Green and Sophia Johnson as two players they believed they had to control.
Next time, they might also keep an eye out for freshman second baseman Natalie Chambers.
Chambers’ two-out, two-run single in the second inning sparked Longmont’s offense as the Trojans beat Silver Creek, 3-0. The two runs provided a dominant Johnson, Longmont’s pitcher, with all the support she needed. She struck out 12 while throwing a one-hit shutout.
Chambers, Longmont’s ninth hitter, came up after Emily Noble and Kelli Smith had singled and Lisa Schifano had been hit by a pitch to load the bases. Chambers fell behind 0-2 before dropping a single off Silver Creek pitcher Dianna Buckett down the right-field line.
“Unfortunately we got beat by bloopers,” Silver Creek coach Tom Buckett said. “We shut their stars down and got beat by girls at the bottom of the order on check swings. It’s hard to beat that.”
Longmont coach Jim Dornan said Chambers did not make an adjustment at the plate after falling behind in the count. The coach believed she did adjust in another way, however.
“She grew up real quick tonight,” Dornan said. “I was so proud of her. I thought she was going to fly to first base. The smile she had on her face was awesome. It was so great to see her come through there. She’s worked real hard, she’s a good kid.
“She always gets good cuts on the ball. If she sees it, she’s going to hit it.”
Said Chambers: “I felt like I had more focus. I blocked all the noise out and focused on what I need to do.”
Longmont added another run in the sixth after Green walked, stole second and scored on Amber Bodnar’s two-out single.
Johnson provided the type of performance Dornan said he expects. She retired the first 12 hitters she faced before Silver Creek’s Denise Yogerst led off the fifth with a single to center.
Silver Creek’s best offensive opportunity came in the sixth. Kate Sims walked with two outs and Dianna Buckett rolled a grounder to Chambers at second base. The ball got by Chambers, but Sims hurdled over the second baseman on her way from first. That, according to Tom Buckett, is against the rules.
“You are not allowed to leap over a player in fast-pitch,” the coach said. “In baseball you can.” Officials called Sims out.
Each coach lauded his team’s progress afterward. Dornan said Longmont (3-2) did not win its third game in 2004 until their were four games remaining. He added their chemistry is “coming along” well.
Buckett said a few of his inexperienced players might have been unnerved by a large, loud crowd. But that was a good thing to experience, and Buckett said he thinks Silver Creek (2-3) has its best team in five years.