LITTLETON — When Jen Lazzeri took over the softball program in 2017 she knew then that her 2021 senior class was something special.
“This senior class is one of the best ever to come through Chatfield,” Lazzeri said after the Chargers won their home opener 15-0 against Golden on Saturday, Aug. 22. “I feel bad for how their senior year of school is going to be. We are playing for them.”
Senior Izzy DiNapoli highlights the senior class that also includes Madison Shepard, Courtney Tidwell and Morgan Morrell. DiNapoli has been the workhorse on the mound since her sophomore season. She currently has a career 2.23 ERA with 460 strikeouts in 373 innings pitched.
“She (DiNapoli) is a phenomenal kid and a phenomenal athlete,” Lazzeri said of her starting pitcher and clean-up hitter. “She is quiet and humble. I call her kind of a sleeping giant. She is our leader. We are counting on her to do a lot offensively and defensively for us.”
DiNapoli pitched two innings against Golden (0-2 record). She struck out five of the six batters she faced before sophomore Brooklyn Levin pitched the third inning for the Chargers, retiring the Demons in order to complete the combined no-hitter.
Chatfield hitters peppered all three Golden pitchers that Demons’ first-year coach Steph Martinez threw at the Chargers.
“We came out and our bats were on today,” Lazzeri said of the 16-hit performance from the Chargers. “All of this is different and we are just getting used to us being out here.”
DiNapoli had no problem pitching with a solid lead.
“I like it a lot when we are way up,” DiNapoli said.
Junior Peyton Shepard reached base and scored from the leadoff spot for Chatfield (2-0) in all three of her at-bats. Her older sister — Madison — nearly hit for the cycle. Madison Shepard had an RBI single in the first inning. She went 2-for-2 from the plate during the Chargers’ 11-run second inning with an RBI double and 2-run triple to push Chatfield’s lead to 13-0 through two innings.
Madison is coming off a season-ending knee surgery that kept her playing in the state tournament for Chatfield in 2019.
“It was really disappointing for me to lose my junior season,” said Shepard who torn her ACL and meniscus. “Having the break with everything (COVID-19) going on I was able work harder, so to PT (physical therapy) and come back stronger.”
Chatfield had a 16-game winning streak last season, but went 4-4 in the tough Class 5A Jeffco League. The Chargers did advance to the 16-team state tournament, but lost a heartbreaker in extra innings in the opening round.
“This is our year,” Shepard said. “This is the best we’ve been in my four years here. We have to make the best of it.”
The 7-game conference sprint for Chatfield begins in early September.
“I am convinced we have one of the most talented teams in the state,” Lazzeri said. “I would take any of my kids any day. I know there isn’t a lot of attention on us right now, but that’s fine. We’ve got a job to do. We have big goals.”
The ultimate goal is to get back to the state tournament for the third straight season. The 5A state tournament has been trimmed to just a one-day tournament on Oct. 10 at Aurora Sports Park.
“Everyday we are out here we are blessed to be out here,” Lazzeri said of the COVID-19 pandemic that has changed prep sports across the country. “We just hope we get to complete the season for all of these kids.”
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more coverage go to CHSAANow.com/Jeffco.