LITTLETON — Sept. 28 was a must-win situation if Chatfield had any hope of hanging a 2019 Class 5A Jeffco League softball championship banner in its gym. “We’ve been in a bit of a funk, but …
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LITTLETON — Sept. 28 was a must-win situation if Chatfield had any hope of hanging a 2019 Class 5A Jeffco League softball championship banner in its gym.
“We’ve been in a bit of a funk, but they are fighting and clawing,” Chatfield coach Jen Lazzeri said after the Chargers ended a 2-game losing streak with a big 4-2 home victory against Lakewood. “I’ve told them that every season has challenges and adversity. It’s about how you respond to it. It’s a great life lesson.”
Chatfield — No. 5 in the CHSAANow.com 5A rankings — was coming off back-to-back conference losses to Arvada West and Dakota Ridge. The Chargers (17-2, 2-2 in league) knew a third loss in league play would likely end any chance of winning the conference title.
“It was something we wanted to fight for going into it,” Chatfield sophomore Peyton Shepard said of the Chargers going after that league title. “We had the energy to do it today.”
Shepard also had the speed to create a scoring chance every time she came to the plate. The sophomore lead-off hitter was 2-for-2 from the plate and stole a pair of bases while scoring twice in the close game.
She led off the game with a single, stole second and eventually scored on a groundout by junior Izzy DiNapoli in the top of the first inning.
No. 9 Lakewood (16-4, 3-2) actually grabbed a 2-1 lead by scoring a run in both the fourth and fifth innings on Chatfield fielding errors. However, the Chargers answered with a 3-run bottom of the fifth inning.
Sophomore Dakota DiPaola walked to start the rally. Shepard and junior Courtney Bidwell ripped back-to-back RBI hits to regain the lead.
“Those two hits by Peyton and Courtney were huge. It just flipped the switch,” Lazzeri said. “The energy came up on the dugout. It reminded us who we are and that we could do this.”
DiNapoli drove in her second run of the game to extend the Chargers’ lead to 4-2 heading to the sixth inning. The junior ace was even more impressive in the circle. DiNapoli finished with 15 strikeouts and worked her way out of a jam in the top of the seventh inning to preserve the win.
“When she (DiNapoli) gets in her groove she is scary,” Lazzeri said. Lakewood sophomore Destiny Martinez nearly matched DiNapoli. The Tigers’ pitching ace finished with 11 strikeouts in the loss.
“Hats off to Chatfield. They are a great team,” Lakewood coach Dannielle Engler said. “This league is a good one. We have to move forward into the next day, the next game. We’ll prepare for Tuesday.”
The Tigers hosted Ralston Valley at Ray Baker Field on Lakewood’s campus Tuesday afternoon, after deadline for this paper. Lakewood is still in contention for the league title in what has been a wild conference race.
Arvada West (9-9, 3-0) is the lone undefeated team in the conference after top-10 ranked Chatfield, Columbine and Lakewood all suffered early league defeats.
“We are trying to keep some of that pressure off of them,” Lazzeri said of her squad that was ranked No. 1 for three weeks before dropping a spot this past week in the rankings. “Pressure is hard to play with unless you use it to your advantage and attack. It is really easy to play tight. We’ve talked a lot about pressure being external. We have to pay attention more internally.”
Chatfield was scheduled to hit the road to face Pomona on Tuesday, Oct. 1, after press deadline, before finishing off league play against Bear Creek, Ralston Valley and Columbine. The showdown against the No. 5 Rebels is the final day of league play on Oct. 10.
Dennis Pleuss is a media specialist for Jeffco Public Schools with a focus on athletics and activities. For more Jeffco coverage, go online at CHSAANow.com.
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