ERIE — There is no such thing as easing in to the season for the top programs in the state.
August is chalked full of some great match-ups and Tuesday's opener was a prime example. Class 4A preseason No. 5 Frederick traveled across Interstate-25 to meet No. 2 Erie in pivotal early swing game in the ultra competitive Tri-Valley League.
One the strength of a huge four-run first inning, the home standing Tigers got of to great start, beating the Warriors 6-1.
"It's good to come out and get it going right away. We jumped on them in that first inning and that certainly helped," said Erie coach Harold Simmons, who watch Frederick first-time starter Kaitlyn Reagin struggle with her command in the opening frame.
"The first game is going to be tough, no matter who it is, but when you are playing a top-five opponent and a league opponent, it's just that much tougher."
Reagin, who will help fill the void in the circle until Alicia Hernandez is ready to go 100 percent, had the first six Erie batters reach. A leadoff double by Maddie Foster was followed by four straight walks.
Tigers catcher Elise Capra then delivered a bases-loaded double to the right field fence that plated two more runs.
"I knew I just had to shorten up with two strikes and hit the pitch I wanted," said Capra, who went 2 for 3. "It was fun to jump on them, it was exciting."
To her credit, Reagin settled down after that allowed just one more earned run the rest of the way.
"You could tell she had some nerves out there, but I thought she settled in and hit her spots," said Frederick coach Roger Dufour, whose schedule doesn't get much easier in the opening two weeks of the season. "We've just got to get her mentally prepared to start the game and hopefully we can play some defense behind her."
The Warriors will travel to Metro State on Saturday, along with Erie, to play in the first annual Metro State showcase against defending 4A champion Valor Christian as well as annual powerhouse Wheat Ridge. The following weekend they will be in the Erie Festival against some of the top 5A competition.
Dufour knows it will ultimately be a positive for his team, especially with the new RPI system in play.
"If we didn't think we could handle that kind of schedule then obviously we wouldn't put them on," he said. "Some of these school called us and wanted to play us, so that is a sign of respect too. We want to squeak out wins against these team, but we have to play to our ability to get on the right track."
Erie pitcher Rio Sanchez was brilliant against a quality Frederick line-up. She gave up just three infield hits and one unearned run when Julia Wyatt came around on a two-base throwing error by Capra. She also struck out 12 and walked just two.
ERIE 6, FREDERICK 1
Frederick (0-1, 0-1) 001 000 0 — 1 3 2
Erie (1-0, 1-0) 400 020 x — 6 9 1
W — Sanchez (1-0). L — Reagin (0-1).
Frederick hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Julia Wyatt 1-1-0-0, Britty Massey 3-0-1-0, Paris Woods 3-0-1-0, Maddy McCullough 3-0-0-0, Makenna Goodard 0-0-0-0, Hannah Ellis 2-0-0-0, Tori Dufour 0-0-0-0, Lorena Hernandez 3-0-0-0, Kaitlyn Reagin 3-0-0-0, Grace Brunstrom 2-0-1-0, Maddie Massey 1-0-0-0, Aspen Dufour 2-0-0-0. Totals 23-1-3-0.
Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Maddie Foster 3-1-1-0, Rio Sanchez 3-0-2-0, Alia Brand 0-2-0-0, Hannah Hackney 3-2-1-1, Kara Kovets 2-1-2-0, Lynsey Bauchert 2-0-0-2, Elise Capra 3-0-2-2, Jade Phillips 2-0-0-0, Kat Sackett 2-0-1-0, Morgan Weber 3-0-0-0. Katie Huonder 0-0-0-0. Totals 23-6-9-5.
Frederick pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Reagin 6-8-6-3-5-1.
Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Sanchez 7-3-1-0-2-12.