Resurgent TCA easily handles St. Mary's in 3A softball tilt

by nEAL REID sports@gazette.com - Published: August 27, 2013 | 8:05 pm 0

There's a new attitude on The Classical Academy's softball team this season.

The resurgent Titans (3-0), buoyed by an influx of freshmen and second-year coach Scott Dufaud, are done being doormats in 3A softball. The aggressive and focused squad matched its win total from a season ago with a 21-5 six-inning triumph over St. Mary's (0-2) Tuesday afternoon at Leon Young Park and is poised to make some noise in Colorado Springs this year.

"There's been a change in mentality," said Dufaud, who has added eight freshmen to his 19-player roster this season. "The girls have bought in to what I teach, and I'm a rah, rah kind of coach who thinks we can do anything we put our minds to. They believe it, and they've played their guts out.

"They've never really known how to be a softball team, and they're part of something bigger."

One of those freshmen, Emma Johnson, was superb Tuesday, earning the win on the mound while going 2 for 3 with three RBIs, five runs scored and three walks from the leadoff position. She is excited about the team's potential in 2013.

"As I got going, I felt a lot better," said Johnson, who settled down after allowing three first-inning runs. "We've improved a lot, and the girls keep a good attitude, which definitely helps. We make mistakes, but we bounce back well from them."

After a Skeyeler Sheveland single scored Johnson in the top of the first, St. Mary's grabbed a 3-1 lead thanks to a two-run triple by Briana Medina-Martinez. The Titans responded quickly, scoring five in the second and four in the third to expand their lead to 10-3.

Walks and errors doomed the Pirates, who granted 11 free passes to TCA batters and committed more than a half-dozen gaffes in the field. St. Mary's scored two in the fourth to cut the Titans' lead to 12-5, but a seven-run sixth sealed the victory.

Ashley Vetack took the loss for St. Mary's and will be required to carry much of the load this season for a team that lost a trio of senior pitchers to graduation.

"I lost my whole pitching staff," St. Mary's coach Dave Hyland said. "The errors lead to the walks, and when you prolong innings, our pitcher has to throw more pitches and gets tired. Ashley is recovering from a broken ankle from May, and she's still getting back to where she was."

Abigail Elmendorf was 4 for 5 with two RBIs for the Titans, while Phoebe Khaliqi, Allie Portnaude and Sheveland each drove in a pair.

Dufaud is optimistic about TCA's future, especially with a team that hits the ball so well.

"We made a lot of improvements last year, but they didn't show up on our record," he said. "I'm excited, and it's been a good start. In the past, we've maybe been the butt of jokes, but not anymore."

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