Behind most every great athlete, like Fountain-Fort Carson softball pitcher Lauryn Chase, there are friends who support them. For Chase, hers was behind the plate.

Catcher Adara Manzanarez-Erickson and Chase have been best friends since the fourth grade. All 17 games Chase threw, Manzanarez-Erickson caught.

Chase finished the year 13-3 with a 1.72 ERA and 119 strikeouts.

The senior, who became the team’s ace this season, said she’s glad she had a friend while she was on the mound.

“We understand each other and have that connection,” Chase said. “We know if someone’s not having a good day or if someone is, and we use it to our advantage in the game.”

The two of them are like any girl best friends; even on the mound.

There was the good.

“I would just go to the mound sometimes to just try and make her laugh,” Manzanarez-Erickson said. “It would relax her a bit.”

And there was the bad.

“If I throw a ball in the dirt she would probably get mad at me, and she’d get like that kind of attitude,” Chase said laughingly. “And we’d have that off-moment. But then the next pitch we’d be back to good.”

The Widefield transfers led Fountain-Fort Carson past Liberty twice to clinch the 5A Metro league title, and grab the Trojans’ first state playoff appearance.

“There was no emotion other than to do her job,” Liberty coach Astrid McGill said about Chase’s demeanor on the mound. “She didn’t react to calls … very impressive.”

After the season, the seniors were worried they would never play softball together again.

“We were freaking out,” Chase said.

But as fate had it, Manzanarez-Erickson and Chase accepted offers “right away” to play softball for Fort Hays State in Kansas.

They both said the school, and being together, is a perfect fit. Manzanarez-Erickson will stay at catcher and Chase will go to her conventional position in the outfield.

“I know outfield is where her heart is,” Manzanarez-Erickson said. “But I know she really enjoyed pitching this season.”

She might have enjoyed batting even more.

In the leadoff spot she hit .544 with 10 RBIs and 35 runs.

“She’s just one of those athletes that can do special things,” Fountain-Fort Carson coach Ron Wilson said.