Ray Garza has to wonder about the speed with which the Riverdale Ridge softball team’s fortunes changed.
The first preseason workout included six potential players.
“I remember 2018,” the coach said. “I sent the information out, and six showed up. I was like, ‘Well, we have six. But it takes nine.’ We had no pitchers.”
Almost two dozen players earned spots on the rosters, enough to fill two teams. The varsity team made the playoffs that year, the first team in state history to make the playoffs in its first year of play.
A year ago, the Ravens advanced to the state semifinals.
“That was pretty cool,” Garza said. “But we lost four girls (Sydnee Fordham, Emma Hodnet, Kyla Humphries and Sienna Mullin). They are going to be tough to replace. So, we have some rebuilding to do.”
Garza is counting on his pitching staff, led by senior Aubree Davis. She had an earned-run average of 2.26 in 83 innings of work last season. In 61 innings, Brynn Trujilo’s ERA was 1.71. Jasmine Sandoval (14 strikeouts in nine innings) and Madison Ortiz (she struck out 18 in eight innings of work in 2021) could see time in the circle, too.
“Our whole pitching staff is back,” Garza said. “Aubree showcases well. Brynn started on the JV team. She had four perfect games. She struggled with the mental part (she was a freshman). She outgrew that quickly and started pitching lights out.”
Davis batted .393 a season ago. Thirteen of her 33 hits were for extra bases. Ortiz batted .450 in 27 games and drove in 13 runs. But offense could be an issue this season.
“We are very inconsistent with the bat. We strike out way too much. The end result isn’t always a home run, not always a double,” Garza said. “We have to develop hand-eye coordination. We have to provide opportunities to create runs. Striking out does not create runs.”
RRHS won the class 4A Longs Peak League title last season, the third straight league title for the Ravens. The Ravens were fourth in a preseason poll in class 4A and are favorites to win the league title again.
“I thought we were going to have bigger numbers,” Garza said. “We’re about 45 girls. The good problem is I don’t have to cut kids. The bad problem is we won’t have kids who could showcase their abilities. You hate to see kids quit. It’s a shame.
“I’m excited to complete the unfinished business,” he added. “We’;ll be able to compete and maybe get back to the state tournament. But we have a lot of work to do. We’ll just go with the flow.”
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