AURORA — Being a little unpredictable and a bit wild can be pretty effective for a softball pitcher.
Lakewood junior Destiny Martinez was just that in the circle during the opening round of the annual Dave Sanders Tournament on Friday afternoon at Aurora Sports Park. Martinez hit three batters, walked a pair, but didn’t give up a hit in a complete-game, no-hit shutout victory against Ponderosa.
“I was ready. I know what I need to do. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen,” Martinez said after her 16 strikeout performance in a 2-0 victory for the Tigers (5-0 record). “I just needed to stay calm for my team.”
Martinez wasn’t picture perfect throwing a number of pitches well over the head of catcher Abigail Swartz, but in turn, the Mustangs weren’t able to square up any pitches. Ponderosa (3-1) put just four balls in play. Two were ground balls back to Martinez.
“She (Martinez) always does a great job in the circle for us. It was a little of a mechanical thing for her,” Gunn said of Martinez’s wildness. “She needed to use her legs a little more and she was making adjustments throughout the game.”
Lakewood — No. 7 in the current Class 5A softball CHSAANow.com rankings — used the long ball to produce both runs. Junior Reagan Medina belted a lead-off home run to start the bottom of the fourth inning. Junior Faith Giebenrath hit a lead-off shot well over left field to start the bottom of the fifth inning.
“My whole mindset was that we just needed runs after Reagan’s home run,” Giebenrath said. “We only had one run and we need more on the board. I just wanted to hit it as hard as I could and it went over. It was a good hit.”
That was all the offense Lakewood needed. Ponderosa finally advanced a runner to second base for the first time in the final inning after a hit-by-pitch and fielding error by the Tigers. However, Martinez finished the game off herself fielding a comebacker to the mound to record the final out.
It was the third shutout victory of the season for the undefeated Tigers.
“There is only pressure when we don’t hit,” Martinez said who already has 43 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched. “But I think that we can hit. We are a good hitting team.”
After another close shutout victory — Lakewood defeated Conifer 1-0 earlier in the season — Gunn is looking for a little more offense from her Tigers.
“We need a little more consistency,” Gunn said. “Our bats were a little slower in that game. Consistency is what we are looking for.”
Lakewood’s bat got hot in the night game against Brighton. The Tigers cranked out an 11-0 victory with Medina picking up the victory on the mound to give Lakewood its fourth shutout win of the season.
The Tigers are scheduled for three games Saturday, Sept. 12, at Aurora Sports Park to close out the annual tournament hosted by Lakewood and Columbine. Lakewood faces Pueblo Central (11 a.m.), ThunderRidge (1 p.m.) and Pueblo East (3 p.m.) at the sight of the one-day state tournament scheduled for Oct. 10.
After the Sanders Tournament, Lakewood will play seven 5A Jeffco League games over the span of 16 days. Only the conference champion in each 5A league receive an automatic bid for the state tournament this year.
“Absolutely,” Gunn said of more stress this season with no regional tournaments to qualify for state and RPI filling the remainder of the 16-team field. “What we do is take it day-by-day. We are in a great spot right now. We are excited to be out here and that the Dave Sanders Tournament is still going on. It’s awesome to be out here today.”