Lopsided game against Highlands Ranch gives top team Rock Canyon a break

12-0 softball score leads to quick conclusion under mercy rule

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Rock Canyon’s softball team is no stranger to being the No. 1 team in the state.

The Jaguars were top-ranked last season and went into the state tournament as the top-seeded team but lost 6-3 to Ralston Valley in the first round.

And that late loss has inspired the Jaguars this season.

Rock Canyon, ranked No. 1 in the CHSAANow.com poll, whipped Highlands Ranch, 12-0, in a Continental League game called by the mercy rule after 3 1/2 innings on Sept. 2 at Rock Canyon. The win was the sixth straight for the Jaguars this season.

“After last year, we have unfinished business,” said senior Annika Sprague, whose team was 24-3 a year ago. “It’s crazy we are ranked No. 1 so early. Nobody expected it.”

Nobody, except maybe the team.

“We are glad to be No. 1,” said coach Mike DiSimone, “because the girls were expecting it. After last season we have the perspective that we have to be prepared. We have to stay focused and do the right things. It’s interesting this season. It’s as much mental and discipline as it is physical.”

Senior pitcher Audrey Burt feels last year is still in the players’ minds.

“Last year we were No. 1 as well but the season did not end the way we hoped,” she said. “We set our expectations high.”

Everything went well against Highlands Ranch as the Jaguars collected 11 hits in three innings at the plate and scored seven runs in the second inning, six of which were unearned.

Burt allowed one hit in her three innings of work as the starting pitcher. She struck out seven batters and also hit a solo home run in the first inning when the Jaguars jumped to a 3-0 lead.

Catcher Katie Dack, the Lutheran High School student, blasted two home runs and had four runs batted in with two homers to spark the Canyon offense. Bella Lewis, Annika Sprague and Campbell Coddington also each also contributed two hits.

Dack raised her batting average to .647 after six games and she now has seven home runs in this season.

“We didn’t show it today but we are a pretty strong team,” said Highlands Ranch coach Debora Kortbawi, who used to coach at Rock Canyon. “Rock Canyon is a very good team.. This was only our third game. We have a young team and you saw the growing pains of putting a team together.”

Whitney Priesser had the hit for the Falcons, which saw their record drop to 1-2 after the loss to the Jaguars.

The mercy-rule win over Highlands Ranch was welcomed since Rock Canyon has played tough games with wins over nemesis Ralston Valley, second-ranked Fossil Ridge, No. 8 Columbine and No. 3 Legacy.

“It was a game we could have fun,” said Burt. “We could relax and work on things.”

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