Ralston Valley rallies to win Jeffco softball showdown over Dakota Ridge

Dakota Ridge freshman Melissa Mages, left, tags out a sliding Ralston Valley sophomore Hannah Peterson during the Class 5A Jeffco League game Tuesday in Arvada. Peterson came through for the Mustangs late with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 2-1 Ralston Valley victory. (Dennis Pleuss)

Dakota Ridge freshman Melissa Mages, left, tags out a sliding Ralston Valley sophomore Hannah Peterson during the Class 5A Jeffco League game Tuesday in Arvada. Peterson came through for the Mustangs late with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 2-1 Ralston Valley victory. (Dennis Pleuss)

ARVADA — Ralston Valley sophomore Hannah Peterson delivered on an extra-inning promise Tuesday afternoon.

With the Class 5A Jeffco League softball showdown between No. 5 Dakota Ridge and No. 6 Ralston Valley locked in a 1-1 tie going to the bottom of the eighth inning, Peterson told one of her closest friends — starter pitching and fellow sophomore Rylie Strong — she would hit the ball. Peterson came through, ripping an RBI single to score freshman Alexa Samuels from second base and give the Mustangs (8-2, 1-0 in league) a 2-1 victory in their conference opener.

“Jeffco 5A is always tough,” Ralston Valley coach Wendy Davies said. “Dakota Ridge is a tough team. Having a chance to start out with them is always good. I think it builds your confidence when you beat a team that has a tradition of being good.”

Dakota Ridge softball coach Marv Van Lingen, far right, talks with Jessica Arneach and Melissa Mages during the Eagles' Class 5A Jeffco League game Tuesday at Ralston Valley High School. (Dennis Pleuss)

Dakota Ridge softball coach Marv Van Lingen, far right, talks with Jessica Arneach and Melissa Mages during the Eagles' Class 5A Jeffco League game Tuesday at Ralston Valley High School. (Dennis Pleuss)

Peterson’s confidence might have been a little shaken early on. She had a couple of miscues leading up to her being the hero with the walk-off RBI. The sophomore was tagged out trying to stretch a single into a double in the first inning and had an error at third base in the top of the eighth inning.

Asked about dwelling on her mistakes, Peterson said, “I did a little bit. I’m not going to lie. I probably shouldn’t have done that.”

Peterson was the only Mustang to have a multiple-hit game off Dakota Ridge senior ace Rachelle Foos. Junior Kat Schaefer had the other big hit for the Mustangs, an RBI double in the fifth inning to score sophomore Katelyn Eldredge at tie game at 1.

“It’s nice that (the players) believe in themselves enough and (the coaches) believe they will come through in those situations,” Davies said.

Dakota Ridge (10-3, 1-1) couldn’t come up with a big hit after the Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Sophomore Megan Sansburn laced a triple and scored on a single by junior Baillie Brooks. It was the only run of the game for Dakota Ridge, who stranded 12 runners on base.

Strong improved her pitching record to 8-1 on the season by scattering 11 hits and working out of multiple jams. She also got plenty of help from her defense. Senior Sierra Galbreath turned a key double play in the top of the eighth inning when the Eagles had runners at first and second with no outs.

“We didn’t have timely hits and that’s the name of the game,” first-year Dakota Ridge coach Marv Van Lingen said.

Foos was solid on the mound for Dakota Ridge, giving up just seven hits over eight innings while striking out six batters in the loss. She pitched a two-hit shutout the day before in Dakota Ridge’s league opening 8-0 victory against Bear Creek.

The next two weeks will be highly competitive with 5A Jeffco teams fighting to win the league title. Van Lingen has been a part of the Eagles’ softball program since the early 2000s before taking over the head job this season. He is confident that his squad has enough time to be in the mix for a league title, but it won’t be easy.

“When it gets to league (play) it always seems that every team picks up their game,” Van Lingen said. “There is no team in here (5A Jeffco) that you overlook.”

Ralston Valley sophomore Rylie Strong delivers a pitch to the plate Tuesday against Dakota Ridge. Strong improved her record on the mound to 8-1 on the season. (Dennis Pleuss)

Ralston Valley sophomore Rylie Strong delivers a pitch to the plate Tuesday against Dakota Ridge. Strong improved her record on the mound to 8-1 on the season. (Dennis Pleuss)