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Early season victory for Bulldogs’ softball squad a test of potential

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By Steve Smith

AURORA — Brighton’s left fielder, Brittany Abeyta, was happy to start her season with a long home run.

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Pitcher Melissa Rahrich, who also homered, was so happy to beat Eaglecrest, her hands were shaking a good five minutes after the last out.

Coach Bob Gonzales was happy because the win enabled the Bulldogs to leapfrog to the top of the class 5A media softball polls.

Such was the postgame summary after Brighton, then rated No. 3 in the polls, topped the fourth-rated Raptors 4-2 in a lightning-delayed game Aug. 27.

Rahrich and Abeyta hit their round-trippers in a four-run fifth inning. Abeyta’s homer came off a fastball.

“It was exciting to start off the season with a three-run home run,” Abeyta said. “It was a great feeling to beat one of the really good teams that we are going to be playing.”

Rahrich’s home run started the scoring.

“In the fifth inning, our momentum went up,” she said. “Those home runs helped us a lot. We were very nervous. We knew we couldn’t make many errors, if at all.”

“We have seven players playing in new positions,” BHS coach Bob Gonzales said. “We’re just getting used to each other. Once we got through the first four innings, we settled down. We played really well.”

Brighton’s win gave Eaglecrest its first loss of the season. Defending state 5A champion Legacy won once in its first three starts. Dakota Ridge beat second-rated Legend the same day as Brighton topped Eaglecrest.

“It’s a pretty big win,” Gonzales said. 

“The win is really big for us,” Abeyta said. “It should bring us higher in the rankings. We pay attention to the rankings. Every time we see the rankings, it pumps us up a bit more.”

Rahrich struck out two and walked none. She allowed eight hits.

“That was such a fun game to play in,” Rahrich said. “They were ranked fourth. We’re ranked third. We haven’t beat them the past two years. It felt so great to come out in our very first game and beat them.”

“We can make it far. With the team we have right now, we are really solid,” Abeyta said. “Our fielding is getting there. We are making good contact with our at-bats.”

“We have the potential to win it,” Rahrich said. “We have a lot of heart as a team. We have so many seniors, we need to get them a win before they go off to college.”

Gonzales said there’s an intangible working in the Bulldogs’ favor this season.

“We’ve got a lot of seniors who have played together. This group has been to the state tournament three times and been in the final four,” he said. “They are kind of hungry. That’s something I can’t coach. I just jump on for the ride.

“It’s fun. It’s really fun.”

 

Contact Sports Editor Steve Smith at sports@metrowestnewspapers.com