ARVADA — Ralston Valley worked its way right back into the postseason picture with a huge Class 5A Jeffco League win Saturday.
The Mustangs (7-14, 4-3 in league) knocked off No. 4 Chatfield 8-3 to give hope to Ralston Valley qualifying for the 32-team regional playoffs in two weeks on Oct. 19.
“This team is all about making it to the postseason,” Ralston Valley sophomore Ashley West said. “That is what we work for the whole year.”
Ralston Valley was No. 38 in the RPI rankings to begin day. The Mustangs moved up four spots to No. 34 thanks to the win over Chatfield (19-3, 4-3). However, unless Ralston Valley moves all the way up to the second spot in the 5A Jeffco standing to grab an automatic postseason bid, the Mustangs must move into at least the top-32 in RPI.
Ralston Valley closes out league play at rival Arvada West (11-10, 5-1) on Thursday, Oct. 11. The Mustangs then has a non-league game against Brighton (14-5-1). Two wins should push Ralston Valley into a playoff spot.
“We need to win,” Ralston Valley coach Wendy Davies said of the final two games of the regular season. “It’s too close not to hopefully coming out on top on one, if not both to get in.”
Against Chatfield, the Mustangs took advantage of three errors by the Chargers in the first two innings. Ralston Valley scored six runs, all unearned to grab a 6-0 lead through two innings.
“We’ve been there where we make the errors and teams capitalize on them,” Davies said. “For us it was great for a couple of those things to happen and then we hit the ball. The girls were aggressive hitting the ball.”
Ralston Valley had a 4-run second inning. West had a ground ball to second base that the Chargers couldn’t handle that scored a pair of runs.
“We knew Chatfield was going to be a really tough team. They have had a great season,” West said. “If there was any chance to jump on them and capitalize on it we would have to do it to beat them.”
Junior Jaiden Geist then ripped a 2-run triple on a line-drive that rolled all the way to the wall to close out the scoring in the inning.
“They didn’t beat us. We beat ourselves,” Chatfield coach Jen Lazzeri said of the Mustangs’ first six runs all being unearned runs. “You have to come out being ready to play. Nobody is invincible, that’s the fun things about sports.”
Chatfield opened the season with 16 straight wins, but have lost conference games to A-West, Dakota Ridge and Ralston Valley to end hopes for a league title.
“We did not play well today,” Lazzeri admitted. Coupled with a win by Columbine on Saturday, the Chargers were eliminated from winning the conference title. “It’s disappointing, but we’ve got to come out and ready to play Columbine on Wednesday.”
Chatfield wraps up its regular season against its rival. The Rebels (20-2, 6-1) could clinch back-to-back league championships with a win Wednesday over the Chargers.
Chatfield clawed back in the late innings against Ralston Valley. Junior Izzy DiNapoli had a 2-run triple in the fifth inning to cut the Mustangs’ lead to 6-2. Senior Abby Hochevar ripped an RBI triple in the sixth inning to cut the lead to 6-3.
However, Ralston Valley plated two big insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning off singles by Laney Clark, McKenna Fitzgerald and West.
“We felt loose,” West said. “We were coming off tough losses against Lakewood and Columbine earlier this week. We just wanted to win and we came out with a lot of fire.”
West picked up the victory on the mound for the Mustangs. The hard-throwing sophomore allowed her defense to work for her. West struck out only two batters, but gave up just four hits while doing a grab job of changing speed and using her change-up.
“I felt really confident this week during practice,” West said of her pitching. “We’ve worked a lot on defense. I just felt confident with them behind my back. Anything that came their way I was confident they would handle it.”