STUARTS DRAFT – Having Sydney Montoya start in left field Wednesday for Stuarts Draft’s softball game against Fort Defiance didn’t seem to be a huge deal at first glance.
But by time the game was over, and the Cougars had secured a 7-6 come-from-behind win over the Indians, head coach Robbie Tillman’s decision to put Montoya out there turned out to be brilliant, and game saving.
With the Indians leading 5-4 in the top of the fifth with runners on second and third with two out, Fort’s Mantha Smith hit a rope down the left-field line. Montoya, normally a first baseman, got a great jump on the ball and made a diving catch of the liner for the third out of the inning, saving at least two runs, possibly three.
The catch kept the Cougars in the game and were able to rally for two runs in the bottom of the seventh for the win. Courtney Black scored on a single by Rendy Dressler, and Dressler came home with the wining run on a single by Abbie Botkin.
But it was the catch by Montoya, in her first outfield start of the season, that made those heroics possible.
“It was a last-minute decision to play her in the outfield,” Tillman said. “She has practiced in right field, but not left. She got a great jump on the ball and really saved us.”
For Montoya, it was sheer determination that led her to making that catch.
“I was determined to get to that ball because I hate letting balls get behind me,” Montoya said. “Being put out there put the pressure on me, and I was going do what I could to get to it.”
“I’m super proud of her because she’s never played in left before,” said Campbell, who homered and doubled in four at-bats. “But once I saw where the ball was hit, I knew she’d get to it.”
The Indians grabbed a 6-5 lead in the top of the seventh on Krysten Wood’s leadoff homer, breaking a 5-5 tie. Wood had earlier doubled in a run in the third that gave Fort a 4-2 lead.
The Cougars tied it in the third when Kasey Truslow’s single scored Campbell and Dressler. Draft then forged the tie in the bottom of the fifth on a double by Montoya and a single by Botkin.
Draft sophomore Danielle Meadows was the beneficiary of her teammates’ late heroics. She pitched four innings in relief of starter Loryl Kennedy to get the win.
The Indians had jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first. Starting pitcher Hannah Shoemaker ripped a two-run triple to score Lindsay Simmons and Katelyn Neighbors, and Shoemaker scored on a single by Gaby Michael.
FORT DEFIANCE 301 010 1 — 6 7 1
STUARTS DRAFT 202 100 2 — 7 11 2
Shoemaker and Simmonds. Kennedy, Meadows (4) and Walton.
WP – Meadows. LP – Shoemaker.