Sitting two spots outside of the 4A playoff picture last week, Montrose High School softball needed to play well enough over its last four games to squeeze into the top 32 of the RPI.
As of Saturday, after two straight losses, they’re outside of the playoff picture.
The Indians visited Gunnison (13-10) on Friday and lost 13-6. Montrose had several errors in the effort, and a six-run fifth for the Cowboys all but ended the Indians’ comeback chances.
The bloated inning came after Montrose tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the fifth. But the Cowboys’ put on an onslaught with 13 hits, including a home run by Maddie Vollendorf.
Friday’s defeat came after Montrose lost its away league matchup against Fruita on Thursday despite a much-improved performance compared to the team’s first meeting this season, an 11-0 Fruita win.
Trailing 1-0 after the first inning, freshman Baeli Minerich led off the top half of the second with a single and was later driven in on an RBI double by Andie Blowers, who has swung a hot bat during a pivotal stretch of the regular season for the Indians.
Malaya Becenti gave Montrose a lead with an RBI single, scoring Blowers.
Fruita tied the game in the third inning and retook the lead with another score in the fourth. Becenti was helped by a Montrose defense that vacuumed its fielding opportunities.
Mid-season, defense was an area head coach Joe Bollinger said would need improvement against quality teams and during the season’s final stretch. Montrose has shown glimpses of it with Grace Gibson efficiently playing centerfield and shortstop Lara Edeker providing highlight plays.
Becenti herself was sharp on the mound, tossing five innings of three-run ball through the first five innings against a Wildcats offense that had scored 21 runs in its past two games.
Fruita’s bats caught up to off Becenti in the sixth as the group scored four runs to take a 7-2 lead.
Edeker, in the top of the seventh, hit a solo home run off Marisa Nehm, who retired the rest of the side and polished off the 7-3 win. She allowed three runs on six hits, gave up one walk and struck out nine across seven innings.
Montrose (10-10) will finish the regular season with a doubleheader against Grand Junction (3-16) at Colorado Mesa University’s softball field on Saturday. Two wins would clinch the program’s first winning season since 2013.
As of Saturday morning, Montrose was .001 behind Denver North for No. 32 in the 4A softball RPI.
Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press