Cottonwood softball wraps up disappointing season on a high note
A Cottonwood softball player beats the tag at second base. Photo/Alissa Smith
One year after the Cottonwood Colts softball team went all the way to the state tournament, a young roster took its lumps in 2017.
In a difficult region, the Colts came out slowly and never fully found their groove until it was a little too late, according to head coach Alissa Smith.
The slow start was due to a number of things, said Smith. “The fun and frustrating challenge as a coach is getting players to recognize that winning is a choice. You choose to make the sacrifices necessary to be better than the other team.”
But when the Cottonwood girls started playing softball like they knew they could, the Colts turned a few heads.
In the season finale with Brighton at home, the Colts took the state tournament-bound Bengals to eight innings. Then, in the bottom of the eighth inning being down four runs, Cottonwood finally did what it had been hoping to do, putting together a masterful rally to win 13-12.
“Brighton was a result of the girls finally seeing their own potential, stepping into the box, and getting the job done at the plate and on defense,” said Smith. “They wanted it, so they went out on the field and did was what necessary to get it done.”
Cottonwood split its last four region games and finished with a bang, but by then it was too late to battle for a state tournament berth. Of course, there’s always next year, added Smith—especially for a team that is still so young.
Sophomore Carlie Roberts took her lumps as a starting pitcher, going 2-8 on the mound. But she was there down the stretch for the Colts and that experience will help her and her teammates next year when they plan to knock on the state tournament door after barely missing out on the opportunity.
“We have a nickname for Carlie Roberts: MC,” said Smith. “The M stands for ‘Monster’ and the C for ‘Carlie.’ That girl is a beast in the circle. I think she wants it more than a lot of other girls her age. She wants the pressure. She wants the responsibility. She thrives on the intensity.”
Smith said that throughout the season she heard from other teams, “Your pitcher is a beast!”
“If the other team hit a home run, she (Roberts) brushed it off and went after the next batter. Line drive to the thigh? No one knew about it until the next day,” said Smith. “She wants it. She works for it. I’m so excited to have her on the mound for the next two years.”
Along with Roberts showing what she could do, the youth movement also stepped up to the plate and smashed home the only two home runs on the season for the Colts, courtesy of sophomores Kaysie Polad—who also went 2-1 on the mound in relief of Roberts—and Bailey Mitchell.
As for the Colts elders, senior Lexi Frustaci belted five doubles to lead the team in that category while junior Jaylie Montoya smashed four.
With all but two players planning to return for next year, Smith said things are looking up.
“I think we, as a team, learned a great lesson this year, especially coming off of two ‘magical’ years. We have to put the work in to win,” said Smith of her girls. “Winning doesn’t just happen. They’re very determined to reverse the trend in our debut (season) in Region 7.”