No. 2 Wheat Ridge softball gets back on track in 4A Jeffco

WHEAT RIDGE — Wheat Ridge’s softball team didn’t have any time to dwell over its first loss of the season.

Less than 24 hours after the Farmers — No. 2 in the CHSAANow.com Class 4A rankings — suffered a 7-6 loss to Bear Creek, Wheat Ridge was back on the field to face rival Golden in another 4A Jeffco League game.

Wheat Ridge senior Cassie Uhl rounds the bases after a 2-run home run during the Farmers' 11-run 2nd inning Tuesday against rival Golden. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“It was drilled into us right at the end of the (Bear Creek) game,” Wheat Ridge senior Amaya Ruiz said of how important it was for the Farmers to bounce back. “We have to stay humble. We can’t be perfect every single game. We came out today and did our best.”

Golden (4-6, 1-1 in league) came in to the Farmers’ home field on a 4-game winning streak and grabbed an early 1-0 lead with an RBI single by senior Caitlyn Stevens. However, it was all Farmers from there on out.

Wheat Ridge (8-1, 2-1) had an 11-run bottom of the 2nd inning sending 14 batters to the plate. Ruiz had a 2-run double and senior Cassie Uhl highlighted the inning with a 2-run home run to finish off the 11-run inning.

“We had to respond after Golden’s run,” Ruiz said after Wheat Ridge's 13-1 victory.

Juniors Bella Martinez and Aaliyah Arellano each had RBIs in the third inning to push the Farmers’ lead to 13-1 through three innings. Senior Jalesa Lujan got the win on the mound for the Farmers. She was able to scatter four Demon hits.

“We still have a lot of things to address,” Wheat Ridge coach Marty Stricklett said. “I would have honestly liked to practice today, but for team morale it was probably good that we had a game today.”

Golden sophomore Mia Rauzi (2) slides in to home during the first inning Tuesday at Pennington Field in Wheat Ridge. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Stricklett coached the Farmers to four 4A state titles — 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013 — is back at Wheat Ridge on a one year before assistant coach Dave Theis takes over the program. Stricklett most recently coached at Brighton, while Theis was at Grandview before both returned to Wheat Ridge this season. Theis coached the Wolves to a 5A state title in 2014.

The Farmers will have to make up some ground and likely win their remaining five conference games to win the league title and clinch the automatic 4A state tournament bid.

“We were just flat,” Stricklett said of the loss against Bear Creek which was just Stricklett’s second league loss in 13 years coaching high school softball at Wheat Ridge and Brighton. “We hit one ball hard yesterday. At lot of that had to do with Bear Creek’s pitcher (Jordyn Johnson). We gave up six runs early and that buried us.”

The last conference loss for Stricklett was in 2014 in a no-hit loss against Valor Christian.

“If you don’t give 100 percent you are going to lose ball games. We learned that yesterday,” Stricklett said. “We learned what our true 100 percent has to be.”

Wheat Ridge has a tough non-league test at home Friday. The Farmers face Chatfield — No. 6 in the 5A rankings.

“We are hungry for every single game,” Ruiz said. “Every single game is important. We can’t underestimate anybody.”

The Farmers have back-to-back road games against Evergreen (Saturday) and Conifer (Monday) to get back into conference play after facing Chatfield.

“Pressure helps us,” Ruiz said. “If we make it to state the pressure is going to be on. We are high up in the rankings so there is already pressure on us because every team we play wants us. We just have to play our own game.”

Wheat Ridge senior Amaya Ruiz, left, slides back into second base ahead of a tag by Golden junior Jailee Kennedy. Ruiz went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs in the Farmers' 13-1 victory Tuesday. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)