Montrose, Rifle face tough roads in 4A, 3A state tournaments
Montrose (12-10) might be the 16th seed in the Class 4A state softball tournament, but the Indians have played a formidable schedule and believe they can compete despite drawing two-time state champion Wheat Ridge (20-1) in the first round.
First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. today at Aurora Sports Park.
“My thoughts and expectations are much higher than in the past,” Montrose coach Joe Bollinger said. “The girls have put time in in summer ball. Once you get that experience of playing at a much higher level, it’s not surprising what we’re doing compared to the past teams.
“If we play our best game, we have a good chance of winning.”
Six of Montrose’s 10 losses are to top-eight seeded teams in Class 5A, 4A and 3A.
The Indians are led by seniors Connor Culver, Hannah Etchart, Salina Rowland, Chrysta Herrera and Brooke Darnell.
Etchart has the highest batting average (.524) in the program’s history. The previous high was .484, Bollinger said.
“We don’t get down on each other,” Bollinger said.
Sophomore Lara Ammermann has pitched a vast majority of the innings for the Indians this season and will be available to pitch, but Montrose will have Ashley Long back in the circle. Long, also a sophomore, was ineligible most of the season, but was the Indians’ ace last year.
“Lara has done really well,” Bollinger said. “As a sophomore, it’s tough to step into a starting role.”
With seven freshmen on the varsity team, the Rifle Bears were simply looking to gain as much experience as possible this season.
Rifle (8-11) was run-ruled in its first six games, but didn’t let that ruin the season.
“At the beginning of our season we were not worried about the score but learning the game and what we needed to improve on,” Rifle coach Cindy Skinner said. “We struggled. The girls worked with us as coaches, listened and did the things we asked them to do.”
The leadership from seniors Cortney Cordova, Shantel Leyba, Chanler May and Vanessa Herrera kept the team focused, yet made the season fun. May is a Meeker High School student and makes the one-hour commute each day for practice. Five other girls are from Coal Ridge High School.
“The four seniors were huge in this process in how they encouraged the girls,” Skinner said.
Now, the Bears, who play top-seed Berthoud (17-4) at 10 a.m. today at Aurora Sports Park, will play with nothing to lose.
“This is a great opportunity,” Skinner said. “These girls get to go over and experience what it’s like to play in the big leagues.
“The opportunity to go in the first place gives us understanding what it’s like to be there. We told the girls they have the ability to play this game like anyone else. We’re going to try to play our best game of the season.”