Panthers end season with three-game winning streak

Paul Magnuson
Woodland Park junior left-hander Dakota Herman enjoyed a solid season on the mound and at the plate for the Panthers.
Danny Summers

The Woodland Park High School baseball team wrapped up its season with bang, winning five of its final six games.

“Once we said `If we screw up, what’s another loss?’ we started to play like we had nothing to lose,” said Woodland Park coach Cliff Richardson.

The Panthers defeated Widefield, 13-3, in their season finale on May 2. According to Richardson, it was Woodland Park’s first victory over Widefield in eight seasons.

“They’ve had our number, but today we were able to put it all together and come out on top,” Richardson said.

Junior left-hander Dakota Herman struck out eight Widefield batters in a game that was called after five innings due to the 10-run rule.

Herman, the ace of the staff, improved his record to 2-4. He had a 4.67 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 31 walks in 33 innings.

The Panthers had 11 hits against Wifdefield. Logan Watters had three hits and scored three runs. Kayden Osborn had three hits, two RBIs and scored two runs, while Herman had a pair of hits and two RBIs.

The victory improved Woodland Park to 9-10, 4-2 in the Class 4A Metro League.

The win over Widefield also marked the 100th career coaching victory for Richardson. Forty-one of those have come with the core group of Osborn, Watters, Chase Fish, Cody Hedges, Sam Ballard and Keegan Harman.

“It’s going to be different making out the lineup card next year with those guys gone,” Richardson said.

It would have been understandable if Woodland Park packed it in with two weeks to play in the season. A 6-1 loss to Widefield on April 18 eliminated the Panthers from post-season consideration.

But Richardson’s group still had seven games to play.

“They could have given up, but they didn’t,” the coach said. “They could have given up when we trailed Coronado, 5-0 (on April 29), but they didn’t. They stuck together and kept playing hard.”

Woodland Park began the seven-game stretch with a 12-1 loss to Skyline on April 21. The Panthers bounced back the next day with a 3-1 victory over Mesa Ridge. Two days later they defeated Sierra 15-1. However, on April 25 Woodland Park was whitewashed by Mesa Ridge 11-0.

The Panthers began last week with a 13-12 victory over Coronado on April 29. Woodland Park trailed 5-0 after two innings, but outscored the Cougars 13-1 over the next 4 ½ innings.

Coronado made a game of it, scoring six runs - the last two coming on a two-run homer by Emilio Martinez - to pull within one. With a runner on first, Herman struck out the final Coronado batter to end the game.”

Offensively, Herman had three hits and four RBIs, while Harman added three hits and two RBIs. Fish had one hit and two RBIs.

That game showed that we have a lot of heart,” Richardson said.

On May 1, Woodland Park defeated Colorado Springs Christian School 7-0.

The Panthers begin their summer season May 27 with a game against Mesa Ridge. Woodland Park will play between 28 and 32 games this summer against a variety of teams. But the Panthers won’t be in a league.

Among the other opponents on their schedule are Lewis-Palmer, Canon City, Florence, The Classical Academy and Manitou Springs.

“Our furthest travel will be Canon City or Florence,” Richardson said. “Our season will end July 12. The guys will get in a lot of reps and still have a summer.”