If the celebration was any indication, the Air Academy High School softball team’s 3-1 win over Discovery Canyon on Monday was a big one on the Kadets’ home field.
When Air Academy (6-4, 2-0) pitcher Cassidy Horn saw freshman left fielder Angela Smith haul in the final out in foul territory, finishing off the win over the Pikes Peak Conference rival, Horn chucked her glove and ran towards coach Chris Hernez for a series of high-fives before shaking hands with the Thunder (7-2-1, 1-1).
“For the last several years, it’s a pretty good rivalry,” Hernez said. “It’s always a big one. It’s important, especially early in the season.”
Horn won a duel with Thunder hurler Corah Price. The Air Academy pitcher limited visitors to two hits and just one run on a wild pitch. The senior struck out five and walked four.
“I was really proud of her,” Kadet senior Karsen Romines said. “I know she worked really hard to get to this point, and she just shut down a really good hitting team.”
Price was strong as well, limiting the Kadets to four hits with four strikeouts against one walk.
“I think Corah controlled the game well for us,” Thunder coach Tanya Ramsay said. “We’ve gotta back her up and make the routine plays, and even the non-routine plays in a game like this against a scrappy team.”
The Kadets jumped in front in the second. Romines opened the inning with a triple to deep right and scored when Rachel Noel grounded out to second.
Discovery Canyon tied it in the third. Amber Rees earned a free pass, stole second and advanced to third on a flyout to right. She scored on a rare wild pitch from Horn.
The Kadets moved in front for good in the fourth when Romines scored on a sacrifice bunt off Noel’s bat. Noel would plate the senior center fielder once more in the sixth with a run-scoring single.
“It’s awesome,” Romines said of scoring all of her team’s runs. “I couldn’t have scored without Rachel hitting me in.”
Horn returned to the mound for the seventh and caught the first batter looking before getting a groundout and the fly out to end the game. The final grab was one of a couple nice defensive plays from the Kadets who have struggled in that department.
“They made some plays that we haven’t been making this year.” Hernez said. “They made them at the right time.”
Sheridan Wayne, Smith, Romines and Noel each recorded a hit for the Kadets, while Discovery Canyon was limited to Mary Roach’s single in the second and Kayden Rodgers’ two-out single in the fifth. The Thunder made solid contact a handful of other times but saw the hosts make the plays.
“Sometimes they fall, sometimes they don’t,” Ramsay said. “Sometimes you have to hit more to make them fall. We’ll bounce back.”
It was an early league showdown for both teams, but it was a big one, too.
“I think we have a little rivalry from the past four years,” Romines said. “Not just this year because it’s usually us or them that wins the league.”