Ralston Valley has remarkable postseason softball run

Dennis Pleuss
Jeffco Public Schools
Posted 10/28/19

AURORA — A postseason berth, let alone a run into the Class 5A softball state semifinals looked nearly impossible for Ralston Valley a month before the state tournament. Starting shortstop Jordan …

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Ralston Valley has remarkable postseason softball run

Posted

AURORA — A postseason berth, let alone a run into the Class 5A softball state semifinals looked nearly impossible for Ralston Valley a month before the state tournament.

Starting shortstop Jordan West was lost before the start of the season due to knee surgery. Ralston Valley was on a six-game losing streak before entering 5A Jeffco League play and then lost its opener to Pomona, giving the Mustangs a 3-12 record on Sept. 17.

“It was a little rocky, but once league came we started coming on really strong,” Ralston Valley coach Wendy Davies said. “It’s just a team that works so hard. It’s a team that keeps fighting.”

Ralston Valley fought to an eventual 5-3 league record to finish tied for second and clawed into the 32-team regional playoffs as the No. 31 seed. A successful trip to Grand Junction snagged Ralston Valley a second-place finish in its regional tournament to punch the Mustangs’ ticket to the 16-team state tournament Oct. 25 and 26.

“There was just a point in our season where we knew something had to change,” Ralston Valley junior Laney Clark said. “We needed to work harder, come together and turn our season around. We did that and I’m proud of where we started. It was pretty amazing that we came this far.”

How far did Ralston Valley go? The No. 16 seed in the state tournament made it all the way to the 5A state semifinals. The Mustangs’ remarkable postseason run ended with a 13-4 loss to eventual state runner-up Fossil Ridge on Oct. 26 at Aurora Sports Park.

The Mustangs were the story Day 1 of the 5A state tournament. Ralston Valley upset No. 1 seed Rock Canyon 6-3 in the opening round and kept it going by knocking off No. 9 Loveland 4-1 in the state quarterfinals.

“Coming in as the No. 16 seed and having to play the No. 1 seed in Rock Canyon it was obviously really intimidating,” Clark admitted. “We knew we had to work

really, really hard to win and that is what we did. It was super awesome we were able to do it. Nobody really expected that from us.”

It was the deepest playoff run for Ralston Valley since back-to-back 5A state runner-ups in 2008 and 2009.

“I think this was one of the toughest years coaching wise and the girls really had to fight hard from where they came,” said Davies the only softball coach Ralston Valley has ever had since the school opened its doors in 2000. “To come this far was huge. It was a great year for them.”

Ralston Valley graduates just two seniors from this year’s squad that finished the season with a 12-17 record. With ultra talented pitcher Ashley West back for her junior campaign, along with her older sister back from injury the Mustangs has a chance to make another title run.

“It will make a big difference for us,” Davies said of having Jordan West return from her knee injury. “She was a very strong leader on the bench. She was at every practice. It will be really nice to have her back on the field.”

LAKEWOOD

Lakewood’s softball team made its first return to the 5A state tournament in more than a decade. The Tigers’ state playoff run ended Oct. 25 with a first-round loss to eventual state runner-up Fossil Ridge.

“We haven’t been here in a while. It was great when we punched our ticket at regionals to get here and for the girls to get some exposure,” Lakewood coach Dannielle Engler said following the Tigers’ 9-5 season-ending loss. “It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but it’s great for our program. This will help for next year and years to come.”

The Tigers finished with a 19-8 record with a young squad that featured sophomore pitcher Destiny Martinez and a young core of power-hitters led by junior Abigail Swartz and sophomore Reagan Medina.

“They gelled really well this year,” Engler said. “We are young, so just improving over the off-season and playing more together.”

ARVADA WEST

Arvada West almost pulled off a first-round upset, but lost to No. 3 Rocky Mountain 5-4 in the opening round Friday.

Coach Brenna Millikan’s squad finished the season with a 13-14 record. The Wildcats battled after a 5-game losing streak early in the season. A-West had a 5-game winning streak before eventually upsetting Castle View twice in the regional tournament to grab a ticket to the state tournament for the third straight year.

D’EVELYN

D’Evelyn had a similar state experience as Wheat Ridge. The Jaguars rolled to an easy 16-1 win over No. 6 seed Mead. D’Evelyn belted four home runs and put in a 9-run fourth inning.

The Jaguars couldn’t match the offensive output of eventual state champion Erie in the quarterfinals. The Tigers score multiple runs in the first, third, fourth and seventh inning on the way to a 10-4 victory.

The loss was the end of one of the best softball players to come out of D’Evelyn Senior Peyton Balbin was the Jaguars starting catcher for four season and finished with a .451 career batting average with 114 RBIs and 139 career hits.

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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