Montezuma-Cortez softball team heading to regionals – The Journal
Panthers head to Brush after strong regular season
The Panthers softball team has made the October playoffs an annual tradition.
For a sixth consecutive season, Montezuma-Cortez High School is in the regional realm, having won a second straight league title. Sharing the league title honor with the Delta Panthers, M-CHS and Delta headline a slate of six Western Slope League teams to enter the field of 32 for the first rounds of the playoffs. .
M-CHS (15-6, 10-2 3A WSL) finished the regular season with a rigorous homestand against four different post-season caliber opponents, taking a sweep from Basalt in their penultimate double-header to secure secure a share of the league title.
With five consecutive winning seasons, the Panthers are looking to qualify for their fourth state tournament appearance in that span. They enter the regional round as the No. 15 seed in the field and will go to the No. 2 brush for the 3A Region 5 tournament.
The Panthers will face their first-round opponent, No. 18 Lyons, on Saturday, Oct. 15 in northeast Colorado, with the winner playing host Beetdiggers winner and No. 31 Cedaredge.
While the Panthers found themselves in a few shootouts in the final week of the regular season, the offense continues to produce numbers that can help them hang on to the best teams in the state. Batting .443 as a team, seniors Rylee Hickman and Lizzie Likes combined for 84 hits and 63 RBIs, while leading the team in most offensive categories.
Sophomore Nevaeh Istenes had a stellar season, scoring 36 runs while schoolmate Aubrey Rutherford finished third on the team (behind Hickman and Likes) with 14 extra hits.
Also part of the deep sophomore class, catcher Emily Carver scored 27 runs, while the Panthers showed their ability to move base runners up and down the formation with consistent approaches at home plate.
In the circle, second Devon Cornett became the hottest starter on head coach Anthony “Hippo” Frost’s team, as the right-hander went 7-3, with 53 strikeouts. in 79 innings of work.
Due to their youth, apart from the seniors, the playoff appearance will be the start for many M-CHS starters, as the Panthers will face the Lions – the 10th place team in the rigorous League standings. Patriot 3A/4A.
Lyons (9-10, 3-9 3A/4A Patriot) has among the most dynamic players in the standings, junior pitcher Ceci Chiaravalle, who has won the majority of Lions innings in the circle, while leading the team with a .553 batting average.
A Panthers win over Lyon would send M-CHS to its second straight appearance in the state, and fourth in the last five years. If the Panthers advance, their regional title game against Brush or Cedaredge would contribute to the overall 16-team field seeding at Aurora Sports Park over the weekend of Oct. 21-22 – as the venue’s eight winners regional guarantee themselves a seeded eight. Two teams will qualify from each of eight regional venues to make up the tournament field. Last year, the Panthers not only qualified, but also earned their first state tournament win in school history.