No. 2 Golden softball gets separation in 4A Jeffco title race

Golden sophomore Caitlyn Stevens (21) is mobbed by teammates after her 2-run home run in the second inning Thursday against D'Evelyn. It was all the offense the Demons needed in the 2-0 victory against the Jaguars. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

DENVER — Golden softball opened up a 1-game lead in the competitive race for the Class 4A Jeffco League title Thursday afternoon.

The Demons — No. 2 in the CHSAANow.com Class 4A rankings — edged rival D’Evelyn 2-0 on the Jaguars’ home field. Despite taking the driver’s seat in the conference race, Golden coach Chad Herbers knows it far from over when it comes to repeating as league champs for the Demons (19-1, 6-1 in league).

Golden senior Emma Graham pitched a complete-game shutout Thursday afternoon against D'Evelyn. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“I’m still not comfortable,” Herbers said of the Demons’ 1-game lead over D’Evelyn and Wheat Ridge with three league games left. “We can lose that top spot just as quickly as we gained it. It’s beautiful to see 4A Jeffco as strong as it is right now. It makes it fun.”

Golden sophomore Caitlyn Stevens was a big part in making the trip to D’Evelyn fun. The Demons’ designated hitter belted a 2-run home run over the fence in left field in the top of the second inning for the lone run-producing hit of the game.

“I just went up there and focused on the ball,” Stevens said of long blast. “I felt like it was a good hit, but I didn’t know what would happen with it.”

What happened was the ball skipped off the top of the fence to drive in senior Haley Prey to grab a 2-0 lead for the Demons. Prey was hit by a pitch to start out the inning.

“I didn’t think it would go out,” Herbers said of the home run by Stevens. “Not at 225 (feet) and the wind blowing in from left field. She really got into it.”

Herbers said Stevens had been working hard on her swing lately. It was her second home run in the past three games.

Golden senior Emma Graham pitched the complete-game shutout. Graham had to dance her way out of jams in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to keep D’Evelyn (13-7, 5-2) at bay.

D'Evelyn junior Kylee Ornstein takes a cut at the plate Thursday against Golden. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

The Jaguars actually outhit the Demons 5 to 4 in the loss, but couldn’t come up with the big hit to get on the scoreboard.

“To win ballgames like this you have to be the one to want to be at the plate,” D’Evelyn coach Dan Porreco said. “To win these game you have to come up with those big hits.”

Graham finished the game in style striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh inning after a lead-off single by D’Evelyn sophomore Mia Riebe.

“It’s always my goal to strike people out, but you can’t always do it all,” Graham said when asked about striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh to end the game.

Graham finished with nine strikeouts.

“Emma delivered,” Herbers said. “She pitched deep in some counts and made it interesting. Defense still made the plays too.”

D’Evelyn sophomore pitcher Avery Garbarek was very impressive too. Garbarek allowed just the four hits while striking out five against the hot hitting Demons. It was the lowest scoring output for Golden on the season.

“She (Garbarek) did a fantastic job,” Porreco said of his sophomore pitcher. “After that home run she really emotionally settled in and came back. She is growing. That was impressive against Golden.”

Golden finishes league play with games against Green Mountain and Standley Lake before hosting D’Evelyn in its regular-season finale Oct. 10. The Jaguars have a tough road facing Evergreen and No. 5 Wheat Ridge before getting the rematch against Golden.

D'Evelyn junior Eve Dalla (2) prepares to slide into third base as Golden senior Makayla Middleton gets ready to put down the tag during the Class 4A Jeffco League game Thursday at D'Evelyn. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)