Lightning canceled their season opener. Then flooding forced them to stay in a hotel. Next, they nearly missed their penultimate regular-season game because of a fire at the school.
Throw in the fact that the Woodland Park Panthers' starting shortstop took a grounder to the face, and it seemed the softball team was on the way to a miserable season.
Instead, the Panthers went unbeaten in 4A Colorado Springs Metro League play to win their first league crown since 1999. Now they are looking for their first state tournament berth since 2000.
"These girls have gone through some trials and dramas," Panthers coach Dale Huntington said.
That's putting it mildly.
But every bump along the road has been turned into some sort of team boost in disguise.
Senior Natalie Diviney opened the season at Cheyenne Mountain, where she'd been her first three years. But flooding and mudslides moved the family to Woodland Park. No matter, her parents said, she could finish her schooling as an Indian. That was until the second Indians practice ended with mudslides that left Diviney stranded in Colorado Springs. Her parents told her she'd be transferring to Woodland Park and that was final.
"I was really bummed out at first," Diviney said. "But now that I got into it I'm really excited."
So are the 16-3 Panthers. Diviney started in the outfield, but in passing mentioned she'd played catcher. Kelee Suggs, a natural athlete, was catching at the time. Against Palmer Ridge in the makeup game from the lightning-canceled opener, a hard ground ball knocked shortstop Lexi Comer out of the game. Huntington had to adjust on the fly. Suggs moved to shortstop, Diviney moved to catcher and the team has stayed that way ever since.
"Once she was comfortable with signals and the pitchers, that's been our best way to line things up," Huntington said.
The Panthers lost that game 3-0, but it didn't take long for the squad to bond.
On opening day, the Panthers were holed up in a locker room in Palmer Ridge waiting out a lightning storm. The storm never passed and the game was postponed. That was the beginning of a closeness none will soon forget.
"That was probably the best team bonding we had," starting pitcher Mallorie Trichell said. "We started our ritual of our claps, which we learned there from some of the girls (namely Jeanette Worscheck)."
That night the team headed home. The players never got there. Flooding and mudslides shut down Highway 24. The team holed up in a Holiday Express and ate dinner at Borriello Brothers. They also ate breakfast the next morning and missed their first class, but made it to school for the rest of the day. They had what had become their opener that afternoon (a 17-2 win over Sand Creek). All the hotel did was give them even more bonding time.
"They were in there (the Palmer Ridge locker room) two, 21/2 hours, sitting in the bathroom with 12, 13 girls hiding out from the lightning," Huntington said. "I don't know if we could've asked for a better bonding party."
Then last week there was a fire at the school. Administrators wouldn't let the girls get their equipment from inside the building nor let some of the coaches have access to the vans to drive them to Mesa Ridge for the game.
"We got there (to Mesa Ridge) about 3:15 and went at 4 like we normally do," Huntington said. "But everybody was wondering how this was going to happen, how hard would it be to mentally prepare."
Not that hard apparently. The Panthers pounded the Grizzlies 16-6. Woodland Park scored eight in the first three innings and Trichell shut out Mesa Ridge for the last four.
The Grizzlies dominated the conference, cruising to a 10-0 record and outscoring the opposition 152-21. They're looking for more.
"I think we have a lot riding on this," said Suggs, whose 11 home runs lead the state, "not only for ourselves, but proving for college coaches, proving to our school ... we're a good team and that we're meant to go far."
How far they go is up to them in a regional that includes No.?5 Discovery Canyon and No. 12 Thompson Valley, which the Panthers face first Saturday.
But a couple of softball games - even ones that put a state berth on the line - can't match up to all the obstacles the Panthers have overcome.
"With everything that's happened so far with this team," Diviney said, "... I guess you could say it's a team of destiny."