Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
The right pitch at the right time.
That was the Durango High School softball team’s strategy Tuesday afternoon, and it couldn’t have worked much better.
With just a two-run lead, Lexy Vidunas threw the right pitches from the rubber to work out of two jams in the fifth and sixth innings before Mackenzie Sill hit a two-RBI triple that cemented the Demons’ win.
DHS beat Basalt 7-2 at Fort Lewis College’s blustery Aspen Field.
“Right pitch at the right time, I guess,” Sill said.
Sill got a couple of those Tuesday, also starting off Durango’s scoring with a two-RBI double as the Demons’ No. 3 hitter in the first inning. Sill was preceded by singles from Vidunas and Mercy Lashway.
Sill had a team-high-tying three hits along with Vidunas. Lashway and Sidney Corbin each added two hits against Morgan Young, who gave up 12 hits and five earned runs in six innings in the loss.
But Vidunas’ biggest contribution came from the circle, where she gave up 10 hits and one earned run over seven innings. She also struck out five batters – including the final Longhorns’ hitter, Britan Strobel, in three pitches. She had a 64-percent strike percentage.
She worked her way out of a no-out, two-baserunner jam in the fifth and a one-out, two-runner jam in the sixth when the Longhorns threatened to overtake the Demons’ 4-2 lead.
“I was just trying to stay positive,” Vidunas said. “I just had to think that I’m going to strike the next person out, and that we’re going to get out of it.”
In the sixth, she struck out two in a row to end the inning after getting some help from the field in the fifth.
“It fuels her tank,” DHS head coach John Bernazzani said of the team effort. “It was a concerted effort.”
In the bottom of the sixth, Vidunas and Lashway hit successive singles to reach with no outs. Sill again sent them home when she blasted her triple, which dropped inches from the center-field fence.
“She threw it right down the middle of the plate, and it was pretty slow so I had time to think about it,” Sill said.
Corbin then scored Sill with an RBI single for the final run of the game and a five-run lead.
“I like to call it a cushion,” Bernazzani said. “That if we need to, we can fall back on it and not get hurt.”
The Demons didn’t need a soft landing, though, as the defense wrapped up a strong overall performance, retiring the side in order to end the game.
The outfield in particular made nice catches on fly balls and line drives throughout, and Bernazzani said his fielders caught everything they should have and made at least a couple of more difficult plays.
“I think we did well in the field,” said Sill, daughter of Chris and Monica Sill. “We stopped a lot of balls and didn’t have that many errors.”
Just two on the day, in fact.
“I think that was the best defense we’ve played all season,” said Vidunas, daughter of Denise and Joe Vidunas.
The Demons’ two-run first inning gave them a one-run lead after the Longhorns scored on a single from Jordan DeCrow.
The Demons added two more in the third, one unearned and one RBI from Augusta Brockus, before Basalt pulled within two in the fourth.
Durango did strand runners on base in five of their six innings at bat, and Vidunas said stringing together hits instead of getting them in isolation will be important going forward.
“We got good hits, just not together,” she said.
Still, Bernazzani said he was happy with both the play and the result in a must-win game for the Demons, whom at 4-9 are looking to battle into playoff contention with just six games left in the season.
“Always more fun to be in a close game,” Bernazzani said. “We practice hard and come out and play for games like this.”
Durango will host Montezuma-Cortez at 4 p.m. Friday.