AURORA – By virtually any metric, the 2019 Montezuma-Cortez softball team will go down as one of the best in program history – 17 wins, a second consecutive 3A State Tournament appearance, incredible offensive production.
The statistics and accomplishments fuel a rising set of expectations for a program that has established itself as one of the best teams west of the Continental Divide.
M-CHS opened the 3A State Tournament on Oct. 25 as the 10-seed, facing off against 7-seed Sterling, providing one of the most compelling back-and-forth contests of the tournament. The Panthers eventually succumbed to the Tigers, 10-5.
The Panthers carried their regional runner-up performance into the weekend’s action at the Aurora Sports Complex, starting the game with gusto, as senior Presley Frost belted a home run to stake the Panthers to an early 2-0 lead.
M-CHS carried the momentum to the defensive side of the field, limiting the Tigers to a single run in the first three innings. Frost kept the Tigers in check from the circle, and after the Panthers tacked on a run in the top of the fourth, M-CHS could begin to taste a spot in the quarterfinals, leading 3-1.
Sterling showed their mettle, however, coming from the same district as eventual 3A State Champions University High School, as they began to battle back in the bottom of the fourth. The Tigers tallied five runs to take the lead, 6-3.
Demonstrating their own resilience, the Panthers responded with a single run in the top of the fifth to pull within two runs. That would be as close as they would get, as Sterling added three more runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Sophomore Allie Kibel collected one of the seven Panther hits on the day, also scoring a run, while classmate Taiah Wilson knocked in a RBI. Frost paced the way for the Panthers, adding a double to her home run, while Brianna Comisky went 1-3 with an RBI.
Second-year head coach Brittney Whiteman talked about her pride in her team’s effort in an email to The Journal. “This year’s team is by far one of the best teams to play for this program.”
While a couple of bounces didn’t go the Panthers’ way in the tournament opener, Whiteman applauded her team’s cohesiveness. “These girls have a very tight bond and have had each other’s back this season, which was very important to our success.”
Even more important than their athletic success, Whiteman pointed out her athletes’ success on and off the field, crediting her seniors for establishing a strong work ethic. “They (the seniors) always made sure to hold everyone accountable as student athletes.”
Ultimately, the Panthers continued what has become an impressive upward trend for M-CHS softball, and another year of state tournament experience bodes well for the future.
“They came away knowing what it’s like to play with the best of Colorado,” Whiteman concluded, “and that they can compete at the highest level.”