Times Staff Writer
GHS Softball — What a season it has been for the Gunnison High School (GHS) softball team. After three straight rough seasons in which the Cowboys have failed to make the playoffs, GHS was determined to turn things around this year — and that they did.
The Cowboys finished the regular season at home on Friday with an 11-11 record — the best finish since 2011 — and will face No. 11 The Academy in round one of the 3A Region 6 playoffs this coming Saturday, Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. in Westminster. The winner of that game will take on No. 6 Eaton.
“It feels really good to finish 11-11. I wish we could have pulled out a few more wins, but the past is the past and I am very happy to improve the record from the previous years,” said senior Darby Hamilton. “It’s also really exciting that we still have a chance to get more wins. The season isn’t over yet.”
Eleventh win secured
On Friday, the Cowboys played their final games of the season against Alamosa. GHS won the first game 19-9, before losing the second game 16-8. After the Mean Moose took an early 3-0 lead to start the first game, GHS battled back and claimed an insurmountable lead.
In the bottom of the first inning, 12 Cowboy batters came to the plate, with eight scoring on seven hits — giving GHS an 8-3 lead.
Tahlayn Fee, Britt Propernick (one run batted in), Violet Fry, Kaitlyn Williams (two runs batted in) and Hamilton recorded singles during the inning, with Melita Ferchau (three runs batted in) and Ashleigh Porter (one run batted in) both smacking doubles.
Alamosa had help scoring in the top of the second inning. Four errors committed by the Cowboys and a triple resulted in three runs coming across to score.
While that inning could have gotten out of hand, GHS refocused, recording back-to-back outs — and giving them momentum in the bottom of the second inning.
Then, Propernick and Engleman got things going, both reaching base on singles — with Propernick later scoring on a successful steal of second base by Ariana Hernandez, who was pinch running for Engleman.
Ferchau then reached base on a walk, while Fry smacked another single to drive home Hernandez. With two outs in the inning, Porter got a two-out rally going, doubling to right-center to score Ferchau and Fry.
Before the inning came to a close, Porter scored during Hamilton’s at-bat on an error.
However, Alamosa wasn’t going to go down easy. They continued to battle in the top of the third, scoring two more runs to cut into the lead.
The Cowboys continued to roll offensively, scoring six more runs in the bottom of the third inning.
To start the inning, Fry drove home Propernick and Ferchau — who reached base on an error and walk, respectively — on a double and later came around to score on a Porter double, which also scored Anna Gallowich and Williams, who both reached base on singles after Fry’s at-bat.
Porter also scored during the inning.
With the game all but over, the Mean Moose scored one more run in the top of the fourth, but the mercy rule was enforced after they were shutout in the top of the fifth.
In the second game, the Mean Moose capitalized on three hits and an error to take a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
The Cowboys responded. A Porter single, a Fee walk and Propernick triple cut the lead to 4-2. And GHS didn’t stop there. Engleman, Ferchau and Fry also reached base, helping to tie the game at 4-4.
From there, Alamosas’s offense continued to roll, while the Cowboys’ offense quieted down until the final inning of the game.
The Mean Moose scored 12 runs over the course of four innings and went into the bottom of the seventh up 16-4. GHS scored four more runs before it was all said and done. However, it wasn’t enough to pull off a comeback.
How do they match up?
While it's difficult to determine how GHS and The Academy match up, they have played common opponents — including Alamosa, Basalt, Cedaredge and James Irwin.
The Academy defeated Alamosa 6-4, lost to Basalt 5-2 and Cedaredge 6-4, while picking up two wins, 16-1 and 14-4, against James Irwin. The Cowboys won against Alamosa, lost to Basalt twice, lost one and won one game against Cedaredge while picking up two wins against James Irwin.
“It has been a blessing to play with the girls on my team for the last four years, and I am so proud that we get the opportunity to continue our season with it being my last,” said Engleman. “This team has made such a positive impact on my life, and I’m excited to play this weekend with such strong women behind me.”
(Brandon Warr can be reached at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
What: Gunnison High School softball team send-off to Regionals
When: Friday, Oct. 18 at 10 a.m.
Where: Hwy. 50 in the area of the Gunnison Country Chamber of Commerce
What else: The last time the Cowboys were in the playoffs was in 2015, when they lost 3-1 to Valley High School. In that game, GHS led 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Vikings scored three runs.