Kellie Mrofcza's last name may be a nightmare for spelling bee contestants, but it's a name that is fast becoming one of the best-known in Colorado softball circles.
The Vista Ridge junior has been turning in terrific performances on both the mound and at the plate so far this season. Last week alone, in seven games, Mrofcza struck out 49 batters in 35 innings pitched and gave up just four earned runs.
She also went 10 for 18 with six RBIs, four doubles, two triples and a home run at the plate in those seven games. In 11 games this season she's batting .607.
"Kellie is a very versatile athlete and she has taken over more of a vocal leadership role this season," Vista Ridge coach Summer Coombs said. "She pitches four or five days a week and has worked hard to improve her command and control."
Unlike in baseball, where pitchers need several days off in between starts, softball pitchers can throw almost daily since the pitching motion is a natural, strain-free arm movement.
But to pitch at that high of level for so many innings takes a lot of preparation and hard work.
"I ice my arm a lot and haven't had any problems with it," Mrofcza said. "If you have a good technique and stretch it out right, everything is fine."
The Wolves are a young bunch, and are continuing to grow as a team and work on the fundamentals, especially on defense - where they have committed 44 errors already.
But Coombs says Mrofcza has handled the young players behind her making mistakes the way a team leader should.
"She's been great at shaking off mistakes in the field behind her and rolls with it very well and has a maturity to go out and keep leading the team," said Coombs, who has coached Mrofcza since she was a freshman. "She's racking up strikeouts and shutting teams down and really putting this team on her back."
Although the team has struggled at times, Mrofcza always has a positive and looking-ahead type attitude.
"I love the way we've competed so far this year, but we have to realize that we play a lot of good teams and they're going to take advantage of any mistake we make," she said. "It always comes down to one or two bad innings for us, and that's something we are hoping to turn around."
Coombs' praise of her star doesn't stop on the diamond either.
"She's a great kid and an excellent student and role model for our school,” Coombs said. “She’s so humble and nice to everyone and kids look up to her.”
Other standout performances of the week
Haleigh Washington, Doherty
In Doherty’s first match since defeating Grandview to win the 2012 state championship, Washington led the Spartans to a thrilling five-set win over Grandview to open 2013. The senior tallied 48 kills, eight blocks and seven digs as Doherty won the fifth set 18-16 to prevail.
Kalen Ballage, Falcon
Ballage lived up to the off-season hype, rushing for 231 yards and a touchdown in his first game of the season – a 38-0 win over Widefield. The senior had a 12.83 yard-per-carry average in the game and also caught a 30-yard pass.
Cameron Hacker, Rampart
The senior quarterback completed 19 of 32 passes for 296 yards and five touchdowns in a 44-30 win over Canon City to open the season. He also rushed for 67 yards and did a great job taking care of the ball, not turning it over once.
Robby Jacobs, TCA
The sophomore scored eight goals in three games to help lead TCA take the championship of the Titans Cup Tournament. Jacobs tallied hat tricks against Alexander Dawson and Manual, then scored the only two goals of the title game in a 2-0 win over Peak to Peak.
Girls’ Cross Country
Aubrey and Katie Till, Canon CityThe pair of sisters placed one-two at one of the 4A events at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede. Older sister Aubrey won the race with a time of 20:53.10 and Katie was second at 21:57.90.
Alison Deitsch, Palmer RidgeIn the other 4A race at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede, the senior Deitsch took the victory with a time of 20:19.70.