Rivals work together for Bruins’ softball team
Cedaredge, Hotchkiss and Paonia are rivals in most sports, but in softball you’d never know it.
Cedaredge High School carries the team name, but the team is a combination of the three schools, and they worked together well enough this fall to earn a berth in the Class 3A state tournament.
The Bruins, 13-7-1 and seeded 12th, open play against No. 5 Eaton (14-7) at 12:15 p.m. today at Aurora Sports Complex.
“This year, we were able to work through the kinks that come with combining three schools,” said Cedaredge coach Matt Hall, a teacher at Hotchkiss High School. “Look at them, and you’d think they’re all from the same school. They work hard together, and they fight hard together. ... We really view ourselves as a family.”
Hall called hitting the team’s greatest strength. The Bruins have a .391 team batting average and a .481 on-base percentage.
“Our offense has been pretty phenomenal in most of our games,” Hall said.
Team speed adds another dimension to the offense as Cedaredge has stolen 113 bases, led by leadoff hitter Jazmine Gomez with 31 steals.
Gomez, a senior catcher, also leads the Bruins’ starters with a .545 batting average, and her on-base percentage is .605. She’s scored a team-high 37 runs and is second on the team with 21 RBI.
After Gomez, the Bruins have five batters hitting .387 or better — Heather Wilczek (.528), Kristen Alward (.481), Shelby Rogers (.397), Marissa Cantrell (.388) and Katie O’Hern (.387) — and no starter is hitting below .292.
In the pitching circle, Cantrell has a 12-7 record. She doesn’t blow the ball past hitters, but Hall said she’s consistent, and he doesn’t worry about her walking batters. She knows batters are going to put the ball in play and trusts in the defense, which Hall calls another strength.
In particular on defense, he said, nothing gets by Alward at shortstop, and she has a powerful arm. Rogers has a quick glove at third base, Samantha Galley makes great reads on flies to left field, denying hits, and Raylee Van der Lindee has a great arm and range in center field.
The Bruins’ outfield in general upsets many opponents, Hall said. Batters will lace what they think is a sure hit only to return to the dugout frustrated when the ball gets caught.
Hall said he doesn’t know much about Eaton other than the Reds score a lot of runs, so he assumes they can hit.
What he knows for sure is his team has been all business in preparation for state.
“We had a good week of practice,” Hall said. “The girls never let down, never took a day off.”