DENVER — Eight was enough for D’Evelyn’s softball team Tuesday afternoon against rival Evergreen.
The Jaguars (10-5 overall, 2-1 in Class 4A Jeffco) scored eight runs on seven hits while sending 11 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first inning. The big opening inning was all D’Evelyn needed offensively in an eventual 10-3 home victory over the Cougars (9-5, 1-2).
“It was really nice how they attacked right away,” D’Evelyn coach Dan Porreco said of the 8-run first. “Then we kind of cooled down, popped things up and was getting into easy outs. We’ve been trying to have complete games where we keep scoring.”
D’Evelyn led off the game with four straight hits. Bailey Marvel, Angi Reed, Peyton Balbin and Sarah Dirks got the Jaguars rolling. Balbin went 3-for-4 with a pair of triples, a home run and four RBIs. She has proved how valuable young talent can be.
Balbin tripled in the fourth and finished off the Jaguars’ scoring with a 2-run home run on a line-drive to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning to make the final score 10-3.
“My expectations were just to help the team out,” D’Evelyn’s starting freshman catcher said. “This team is fun and I respect them. I wanted to get hits for them when they need it. I’m just pushing more.”
Marvel provided a nice push also going 3-for-4 from the plate, which included a 3-run triple in her second at-bat in the bottom of the first inning.
“We came out with a lot of hits. We drove in a lot of runs,” Marvel said. “We always come out strong and then seem to flatten out.”
After belting seven hits in the first inning, D’Evelyn took its foot off the accelerator. The Jaguars only had five hits off Evergreen senior pitcher Katie Solis for the remainder of the game. The only runs for D’Evelyn after the first inning came on Baldin’s 2-run inside-the-park home run.
“She (Balbin) crushed it,” Porreco said. “She doesn’t act like a freshman. She is aggressive and handles herself.”
Evergreen did get on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth inning. The Cougars took advantage of three walks by D’Evelyn pitcher Jamie Lefevre in the inning. Solis picked up an RBI on a groundout to first base.
Evergreen senior Jessica Bellatti had two singles to lead the Cougars’ offense that had three hits in the game. Evergreen scored two more runs in the top of the sixth inning, but Bellatti was caught stealing in the top of the seventh for the final out of the game.
With only two automatic bids awarded to 4A Jeffco, it may very well be the case that D’Evelyn and Evergreen postseason dreams will be realized or crushed by RPI points. Half of the postseason field will be made up of at-large bids to make the 32-team regional playoff field.
“We’ve just got to win,” Porreco said of the playoff hopes. “I feel good so far. We want to go to the playoffs and prove something.”
Going into Tuesday’s game, D’Evelyn was 23rd in the RPI standings and Evergreen sat near the bubble at 30th.
D’Evelyn closes its conference schedule with the two top dogs — Valor Christian (15-0, 4-0) and Wheat Ridge (11-5, 2-1). The Jaguars faced two-time defending 4A state champion and No. 1 ranked Valor at 10 a.m. Saturday in Highlands Ranch. D’Evelyn wraps up league play at No. 4 Wheat Ridge at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 5.
“Valor is our main one. Hopefully we’ll come out and hit Ali (Valor junior pitcher Ali Kilponen). She has been having a great season,” Marvel said. “If we can beat Valor, I think we can carry that momentum over to beat Wheat Ridge.”
Victories over Valor and Wheat Ridge would put D’Evelyn in the driver’s seat for a conference title. Evergreen gets its shot against Wheat Ridge on the Cougars’ home field at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.