It had the makings of a perfect matchup. It turned into a mismatch.
The showdown between the East and Pueblo West high school softball teams, both unbeaten in the South-Central League, featured two pitchers who have thrown no-hitters this season.
The defending 3A state champion Eagles broke open a close game in the third inning en route to an 11-1 rout that was called after five innings on the 10-run rule.
The Eagles used the overpowering pitching of senior left-hander Katie Orona and a small-ball attack that featured the Eagles’ speed offensively to end the game early.
The victory was the fifth straight for East, 8-0 in the S-CL and 10-2-1 overall. The Cyclones are 6-1, 11-3.
“It’s been a long week, so it’s satisfying to play a great team and get the job done,” East coach Ben Garcia said of his team’s performance. “It helps when you execute … bunt when you need to bunt and get the base hit. And Katie threw like Katie can throw.”
Pueblo West coach Rick Montes said his team had no excuses. “We made mistakes that we don’t do. We’d won eight in a row and have been battling all week, playing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We’ll come back.”
Orona checked the streaking Cyclones, who had reeled off eight wins in a row that included three this week over South, Centennial and Canon City, on a three-hitter. She notched 11 strikeouts using a 60 mph riser with a curveball and a changeup.
While Orona silenced Pueblo West’s bats, the Eagles bunched all their runs into two innings.
After Pueblo West took a 1-0 lead in the second on an unearned run, East answered with a six-run outburst in the top of the third to break open an early duel between Orona and PW sophomore Ashley Thomas, who pitched a no-hitter Tuesday against Centennial.
After No. 9 hitter Chayanna Gallardo hit a single into right field, the Eagles’ Cheyenne Talmadge beat out a bunt and Yesina Garza dropped a sacrifice bunt. Thomas’ throw to first was wild and the Eagles showed their speed as Gallardo and Talmadge scored.
The Eagles sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning.
East erupted again in the fifth, using three hits to chase Thomas and reliever Mariah Algien for five more runs. The clincher was Talmadge’s three-run inside-the-park home run that made it 11-1.
The Eagles’ speedy leadoff hitter sliced a hit in the gap between third base and shortstop and when Pueblo West left fielder Adri Deville slipped and fell, Talmadge didn’t stop running until she slid home.
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