For yet another season, the Panthers softball team has put itself in a good position to vie for a league title.
Head coach Anthony “Hippo” Frost has poised his Panther softball for another postseason run, thanks in part to a stern series of contests in northeast Colorado. M-CHS split a four game set of contests against 3A and 4A opponents, topping Lyons 16-0 and Weld Central 13-9, while falling to 4A schools Niwot 9-7 and Windsor 13-0.
With key 3A Western Slope League meetings with Delta and Meeker on the horizon, the Panthers (8-3, 4-0 3A WSL) enter the second half of September with high ambitions. M-CHS has scored more than 10 runs in most of their games this year, and their hot bats continued over the weekend during the Berthoud Spartan Invitational in Loveland, which hosted 28 teams divided into seven divisions.
After falling behind 7-0 Friday against Niwot in Division 6, the Panthers battled back on the bats of seniors Allie Kibel and Taiah Wilson and sophomore Kaycee Tom. The trio combined for five RBIs and two doubles, and Kibel continued to be a menace on the bases with three stolen bags.
The Panthers chipped away with runs in the third, fifth, and sixth innings, but couldn't overcome the early deficit.
M-CHS rebounded from a 13-0 loss Friday against 4A power Windsor with an emphatic thumping of Lyons on Saturday. The Panthers put up a couple of runs in the opening inning before batting around twice in the second inning against the Lions en route to the mercy-rule victory.
Then, in perhaps the most exciting match-up of the tournament, M-CHS raced out to a 6-0 lead Saturday against Weld Central in the Division 6 finals. But the Rebels battled back with big innings in the third and fifth to tie the game up at 7 heading to the final frame.
M-CHS exploded once more, putting up six runs in the top of the seventh and holding off a Weld Central rally in the bottom half of the inning to pick up the weekend split. Junior Lizzie Likes showed resiliency in the circle, rebounding from a couple tough innings to close out the complete game victory. She aided her own cause with three hits and a RBI. Senior Brianna Comisky added a pair of runs and RBIs, and classmate Hailey Veach did the same, to go along with the productive days for Tom and Wilson. Junior Rylee Hickman scored twice and doubled in the victory.
M-CHS turns their focus to a road trip to Alamosa this Friday, Sept. 17 to take on the Mean Moose before they return home for a huge week ahead. The Panthers will host Durango in a highly anticipated return to Englehart Field, their longtime home field, when Durango visits on Monday, Sept. 20. That matchup sets the tone for a visit from Delta, one of the league title contenders, on the following Friday, Sept. 24 for a doubleheader.