AURORA - Under the spotlight of the state’s grandest stage, the Montezuma-Cortez softball team proved that they belonged. For two innings, the Panthers went swing-for-swing with one of the state’s most potent offenses, before finally succumbing in a 20-5 defeat at the hands of eventual state runner-up Eaton.
M-CHS (13-10) started brightly, pushing across a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Senior Morgan Short collected one of her three hits on the afternoon, while juniors Alexis and Alyssa Cornett each enjoyed two-hit days to spark the early threats.
The Reds responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning against junior pitcher Presley Frost.
However, M-CHS proved that they would not go quietly, retaking the lead with a three-spot in the top of the second to regain the lead at 5-3. Senior Mandy McAfee drove in a run, while senior Kailey Case and junior Taelynn Comisky each reached base and scored. Alexis Cornett pounded a home run as well to keep the momentum going.
Much like they had in the first inning, Eaton answered, scoring four runs of their own, stealing back the momentum. Then, after blanking the Panthers in the top of the third inning, the two-seed put some distance between themselves and M-CHS with six runs in the third, en route to the victory.
The loss kept the Panthers from an elusive first victory in the state championships, but capped a remarkable season for M-CHS.