LONGMONT — Cross-town rivalry between two of the state’s top softball teams with the game on the line late?
Niwot freshman Alyssa Meadows handled the scenario like she’d been through it 100 times before, looping a single to left to drive home Meghan Waidler for the only run in a 1-0 victory over Silver Creek.
The win boosted Niwot to 5-0 and gave the Cougars the early edge in the Northern League race.
“It’s nothing new at all,” Meadows — who’s been through plenty of pressure-packed situations in club softball — said of her big fifth-inning moment. “It felt really nice. I went up to bat and thought, ‘I need to hit this for the team.’ So I just relaxed and hit it.”
In a battle between the power-pitching arm of Niwot’s Nickie Blue and Silver Creek’s heavy-hitting lineup, Blue won out in the first of two scheduled regular season meetings.
The South Carolina Gamecocks recruit pitched a complete game, allowing just four hits and one walk and striking out 16.
The Raptors, who had clubbed five home runs in a 15-4 win over Longmont on Tuesday, managed only two real scoring opportunities Thursday.
After Blue worked out of a two-out, two-on situation in the first inning, she retired 13 straight batters before Devin Aubry and Macy Child led off the bottom of the sixth inning with infield singles. Blue wiggled out of the sixth by striking out Haille Weber, coaxing a ground-out from Shelby Keil and then watching catcher Katrina Hunt pick off Aubry at third base.
“When you’re facing good teams, when you have opportunities, you have to take advantage of them,” Silver Creek coach Ryan Beavers said.
Thanks to a solid pitching performance by McKenna Kostelecky and some clutch Silver Creek defensive plays early to end innings, Niwot struggled to get much going offensively as well.
But Waidler led off the top of the fifth with a walk and moved to second on a Raven Baca bunt. With one out and the runners on first and second, Meadows came through.
“It was really big, especially with how young our team is,” Blue said of the win. “It was really important for us to come out and stay in it the entire game.”
The Raptors (3-1, 3-1), the two-time defending league champs, weren’t fretting too much over the loss given that they’ll get another crack at Niwot on Sept. 24.
“This game doesn’t define how we do the rest of the season,” Kostelecky said.
After shutting down Silver Creek’s rally in the sixth, Blue gave up a one-out single in the seventh before ending the game with a strikeout and a pop-out, giving a fist pump when the final play was made.
The Cougars and Raptors split their series last season, with Silver Creek winning two of three against Niwot two years ago.
“That’s fun,” second-year Niwot coach Bobby Matthews said. “That’s the kind of game you’re always going to get with Silver Creek-Niwot.”
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Niwot 1, Silver Creek 0
At Silver Creek HS
Niwot (5-0, 4-0) 000 010 0 — 1 3 0
Silver Creek (3-1, 3-1) 000 000 0 — 0 4 1
W — Blue. L — Kostelecky.
Niwot hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kleespies 3-0-0-0, Hunt 3-0-0-0, Artzer 2-0-0-0, Blue 3-0-1-0, DeLozier 3-0-0-0, Waidler 2-1-0-0, Johnson 3-0-1-0, Baca 2-0-0-0, Meadows 2-0-1-1. Totals 23-1-3-1.
Silver Creek hitting — Child 3-0-1-0, Weber 3-0-0-0, Keil 3-0-1-0, Kostelecky 2-0-0-0, Jones 0-0-0-0, Ludwig 3-0-1-0, Beavers 3-0-0-0, Strub 2-0-0-0, Ballard 1-0-0-0, Wergin 2-0-0-0, Aubry 2-0-1-0. 2B — Keil. SB — Keil, Kostelecky.
Niwot pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) — Blue 7-4-0-0-1-16.
Silver Creek hitting — Kostelecky 7-3-1-1-2-3.