September 25, 2013 Updated: September 25, 2013 at 9:25 pm
Four outs from having to delay celebrating a Pikes Peak Athletic Conference title, Discovery Canyon got an extension from McKenzie Surface's clutch, two-out, two-run homer in the sixth inning to tie Wednesday's game against Air Academy.
Then her walk-off grand slam in the eighth made the extra wait worth it, giving the Thunder the league crown with a wild 7-3 victory in their final regular-season home game.
"McKenzie is a big-time player and a clutch player," Thunder coach Tanya Ramsay said. "She's definitely someone coaches want on their team. I'm just excited she's on our team. She did one heck of a job."
In the top of the eighth, Air Academy briefly took a 4-3 lead when Surface hit Jenny Maynard on the hand with the bases loaded and two outs. After an argument from Ramsay, the home plate umpire conferred with the umpire between second and third.
It was ruled that Maynard was hit while in the act of swinging, and the runners were sent back. Surface then struck out Maynard to end the bases-loaded threat.
"That was a bad call," Kadets coach Chris Hernez said. "The new rule is they don't have to get out of the way. She got her bat back, but it's a human game. We took one of the best teams in the state to extra innings, and our girls played hard."
Air Academy (8-9, 4-2 4A PPAC) loaded the bases in the second and took a 3-0 lead when Discovery Canyon right fielder Larissa Lum dropped a wind-blown fly ball hit by Payton Romines near the foul line.
Discovery Canyon (11-5, 6-0) cut the deficit to 3-1 in the third. Riley Trousdale hit a two-out double to right and scored on Kailee Clark's smash to center.
It stayed that way until the sixth. With two outs and a runner on first, Kadets pitcher Megan Horn fell behind Surface 2-0, prompting Hernez to visit the mound.
"I told her specifically to walk her," Hernez said. "That was the strategy, and everyone over there knows it. We hung one over the plate and we got bit by it."
Surface took the next pitch for a strike, then crushed the next one over the fence in left-center field. Minutes later, she hit Horn's first pitch over the center-field wall for a game-ending grand slam.
"I was looking for a pitch to hit," Surface said. "I had no idea they were trying to walk me earlier, but this is just amazing. Even if the run would have come in, I knew the team was behind me and could score what we needed to. I just happened to be right there at the right time, and it's a great feeling."