Kenlee Frank returned to the softball field Tuesday ready to play.
The Greeley West junior, who sat out last season due to an anterior cruciate ligament tear, looked like she hadn’t skipped a beat in the Spartans’ season opener.
Frank slammed a two-run home run over the right-field fence, to aid West in a 6-3 nonconference win against Windsor at Greeley West High School.
The Spartans (1-0) came out swinging and after Frank’s homer in the fourth inning, they took a commanding 6-1 lead over the Wizards (1-2).
“It’s good to be back out here … and (a home run was) definitely a good way to start the high school season,” Frank said. “Everyone was hitting well today, I think.”
Frank finished the day with two RBI, and senior Jordyn Padilla went 2 of 4 with a double and three RBI.
West coach Don Wagner said this year, the Spartans finally have some experience in their dugout.
“We’ve been young — we’re not young anymore,” Wagner said. “We’ve got a veteran team here that’s seen the elite pitchers in the state and we expect to hit the ball hard, and we did. We were really happy with that.
“Windsor is a very good team, well-coached, and this was a quality win for us,” he added.
One veteran, junior pitcher Kenya Grauberger, showed her experience in the circle with an 83-pitch, complete-game performance. Grauberger scattered eight hits, three runs, no walks and two strikeouts.
“Kenya, she’s just our security blanket,” Wagner said. “She comes out and she throws pitches to contact. She doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts — none of our pitchers are really strikeout pitchers. … And, she was really in total control. I really felt like she controlled most of that game.”
One reason might have been that the Spartans are using an armband system to call out pitches instead of signs this year.
“Just keeps my pitcher-catcher and me a little more focused and they’re kind of excited about it ‘cause it’s something new,” Wagner said. “It worked out well today.”
In the opposite dugout, Windsor coach Aryn Henneke said her whole team started off slow and that’s been a problem in its first three games.
“I think the whole game, they took a long time to get going and that’s something they’ve gotta fix,” Henneke said, “and they’ve gotta fix it quick if they want to be competitive.”
The Wizards struck first with a run in the top of the first, but they didn’t get another across until the sixth. Sophomore Kristen Bessey led the team, going 2 for 3 with a double and two RBI.
In the circle, junior left-handed pitcher Bre Hamilton carried the first half of the game, Henneke said, but “a pitcher can only do so much when the team a whole is not there.”
Hamilton gave up eight hits, five earned runs, one walk and one strikeout.
“You kinda bear that burden and as that stress builds and builds and builds, you start having more mistakes at the plate and you start throwing more mistakes with pitches,” Henneke said. “And, good hitters, like West has, are gonna jump on mistakes.”
Frank said the Spartans have power hitters throughout their lineup and they are executing the way they’re supposed to.
“Our offense is definitely what keeps us alive,” Frank said. “We get hits when we need to, especially with two outs. That was big today.”
WHS 100 001 1 — 3 8 2
GWHS 200 400 X — 6 10 2
WHS — Bre Hamilton (W, 1-2, 8H, 5ER, 1BB, 1SO), Ashton Kazmierski (4th, 2H, 0ER, 2BB, 0SO) and Janae Cameron. 2B – Kristen Bessey; RBI – Bessey 2.
GWHS — Kenya Grauberger (W, 1-0, 8H, 3ER, 0BB, 2SO) and Aracelli Gallardo. 2B – Jordyn Padilla; HR – Kenlee Frank (1 on in 4th); RBI – Padilla 3, Frank 2.