No school in the Colorado Springs area has produced a state champion in softball. Looking at the statistics, perhaps there is a reason for that.
Search the state leaders in batting average, and seven area girls rank among the state’s top 30 (paced by Woodland Park’s Danni Lopez in fifth at .655). In home runs, the area again has seven among the top 30 (led by Woodland Park’s Mallorie Trichell in second with nine) and it has eight of the top 30 in RBIs (again led by Trichell, who is second with 41).
But search the pitching leaders, and you find almost no mention of the area.
Kacee Schroeder of Discovery Canyon is tops for the region with a 1.60 ERA, ranking 21st. No one else appears in the state’s top 30. Two from the area – Florence’s Morgan Thompson (24th with 88) and Cheyenne Mountain’s Aspen Atkins (28th with 84) – rank in the top 30 in strikeouts.
So, is a dominant arm crucial for a team looking to make a run at a state title?
“Our sport definitely revolves around pitching,” said Discovery Canyon coach Tanya Ramsey, whose 16-3 Thunder will host a 4A regional Saturday. “At the high school level, you have to be talented in that area. Teams that have been successful have had that great pitcher, but they’ve also been able to put the rest of the game together.”
Widefield’s Gary Foltz, whose teams have been loaded with offensive talent in recent years, knows the importance of an elite pitcher at the high school level.
“Pitching is the key to all of it,” said Foltz, who is in his 26th season with the Gladiators. “Baseball and softball are the same way – if you have good pitching, you can cover up for a lot of other things. If you’ve got a pitcher who keeps other teams on their heels, wondering when to swing, you just dominate.
“Last year, I had seven girls sign scholarships, but if our pitching had been elite, I think we would have won everything.”
Foltz’s 12-7 team is the No. 26 seed in this weekend’s 4A regionals and will play 2010 state champion and seventh-seeded Erie (15-4) Saturday morning.
So, do any of this year’s area stalwarts have the dominant pitching so crucial to a state title run? With McKenzie Surface (7-3) and Schroeder (9-0), No. 4 Discovery Canyon seems to be the closest to the mark.
“We’re fortunate enough this year to have two great pitchers,” said Ramsey, whose team plays No. 29 Palisade (12-7) Saturday. “We definitely have a well-rounded team, as far as hitting and defense goes. In the end, it comes down to putting all three components together.”