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By Jocelyn Rowley
Sports@lhvc.com 

Softball: Niwot improves to 9-4 after Berthoud tournament

 

September 13, 2018

Jocelyn Rowley

Freshman catcher Ayva McComas batting against Lyons at the Berthoud Spartan Invitational on Sept. 7. She had seven hits and 12 RBIs for Niwot in the four-game tournament.

The Niwot softball team’s recent five-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt against Mountain View on Sept. 6, but the team didn’t let the 20-2 blowout loss to the defending Class 4A champs slow them down for long. The Cougars were back to their winning ways the very next day at the Berthoud Spartan Invitational, a two-day tournament featuring more than 20 teams from around the state, including local rivals Longmont and Skyline.

Now the Cougars are working on a new winning streak, but head coach Bobby Matthews is trying to keep his team “focusing on the process.”

“I am hoping we continue to play together and minimize the mistakes,” he said. “We aren’t getting to ahead of ourselves. I know it’s cliché but we literally are taking it one day at a time.”

If Matthews’ had any worries about his team’s confidence after Thursday’s defeat, the Cougars helped quell them with their 9-1 win over Lyons in their opening game at the Berthoud tournament on Friday - even if it did take the Cougars an inning to get going.

The Lions got on the board first, after a series of errors among the Cougar infielders led to an unearned run in the top of the second inning. With that out of their system, the Cougars evened it up in their half of the inning, also thanks to some uneven defense. Junior Regan Wills reached first on an error, then advanced to third on a Lions throwing error. She then scored on a line drive single by junior outfielder Esme O’Rourke. Wills ended the day with a hit and two runs.

Junior Nikki Sims opened the Cougars’ third with a single, then scored on a triple by senior Savannah Rafkin, who then scored on a sacrifice fly by freshman catcher Ayva McComas. Rafkin and Sims combined for four hits, three runs, and two RBIs in the win.

Niwot led off the four-run fourth inning with three consecutive hits, including the second of O’Rourke’s three singles on the day and infielder Jasmine Aldama’s triple. The ninth-grader then added a double in the fifth inning, and went on to score Niwot’s ninth and final run of the day.

It was more of the same from the Cougars over their next three Invitational games. Right after their Lyons win, the Cougars faced off against Skyline, beating the Falcons 22-2. On the tournament’s final day, Niwot beat Adams City 14-4, then exploded for 17 hits in a 15-5 win over Greeley West.

“They are really coming together as a team and buying into what the coaches are asking of them,” Matthews said of the team’s recent successes. “They are playing for each other and have really bought into the team first mentality.”

Jocelyn Rowley

Senior Savannah Rafkin tries a bunt against Lyons at the Berthoud Spartan Invitational on Sept. 7. She ended the game with a two hits and an RBI.

Sims and wills combined for 15 hits in the weekend’s four games, while Ayva McComas had seven, but led the team in RBIs with twelve. Sophomore Aliyah McComas once again bore the brunt of pitching duties for the Cougars, going 16.1 innings and giving up just 14 hits.

After starting the season with three losses in a row, the Niwot softball team has found its footing, and now heads into the heart of its conference schedule with some momentum. However, Matthews is not looking very far ahead right now.

“Honestly I am keeping myself in check,” he said. “If it’s practice, what can we do as a staff to help the girls get better that day. If it’s a game, I want to make sure that I am focused on each pitch. At the end of the season, what happens will be a result of everyone focusing on the process and getting better every day.”

 

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