Under new head coach, Cottonwood softball guns for return trip to state
Mar 29, 2019 09:47AM
By Brian Shaw
Sophomore Jocelyn Lujan hits the ball down the left field line during region play last year. The Colts hope to build on its successful record from last season. (City Journals)
By Brian Shaw | [email protected]
When one talks about tradition and supremacy in Cottonwood High School sports, all you need do is refer to the baseball and softball programs at the school.
The baseball program, which tasted a state title just two seasons ago, is well known. The softball program is lesser known.
But, if the 2018 season was any indication of the softball team's ability to play with anyone and cause a few headaches for opposing teams, 2019 will be a step above last year.
Cottonwood's girls not only won a state tournament game in 2018, they nearly won a second game before succumbing.
After spending several years building up this program though, former head coach Alissa Smith departed to focus on her family.
And so, years of watching Smith cultivate players like pitcher Carlie Roberts, outfielder Kaysie Polad and Savannah Hoffman come to fruition in 2019 as all are seniors—along with five others.
Jen Riches—also the school's business and marketing teacher—steps in to replace Smith and takes over a stacked Colts roster featuring eight returning seniors.
Of the three key seniors on this squad, Roberts is the ace on the mound for Cottonwood, having posted a 15-8 record in 2018 with an ERA of 4.80.
She also threw 20 strikeouts and only allowed 11 walks. Roberts played both ways for the Colts and had one home run for Cottonwood last season.
Hoffman hit .405 for the Colts last year, appearing in all 26 games. She smacked four homers to lead Cottonwood in that category and hit 23 RBI.
Polad is also one of Cottonwood's most reliable hitters, having slugged .400 for the Colts last year. She played in 15 games for Cottonwood but dealt with some injury. In 2019, however, the Colts expect to have her at full strength to play her role on what should be a balanced team.
Cottonwood dominated Hillcrest 16-4 in its March 11 opener. The Colts followed that up with a 2-3 run at the March Warm-Up Classic in St. George before wiping out Jordan 21-0 on March 19 for its region opener.
The team will be trying to improve on their 7-3 region record from a year ago. The big question is whether or not the Colts will be able to reach the state tournament for the second consecutive year and that's something to be learned as the season rolls on under a new head coach and a veteran roster.