THORNTON -- If anyone thought Riverdale Ridge's softball team might lose a step this season, a second guess might be forthcoming.
The Ravens, who advanced to the state 4A quarterfinals a year ago, lost pitcher Makenna Meyer, catcher Destiny Hackney and infielder Nikki Waddle, among others, to graduation. Yet with a cast sprinkled with newcomers and some veterans, RRHS has a record of 14-3, entering play this week.
"It is very surprising," said coach Ray Garza. "I don't they've been replaced. We've got girls who have filled the shoes and have done some great things. The girls have bought into the girls we replaced them with. Wow. It's been amazing to see."
"It's been a rollercoaster, for sure," said Sydnee Fordham, whose four hits helped the Ravens to a 14-4 win over Niwot Sept. 16. "Our team is really young. We have a lot of freshmen on our team. They've stepped up and filled their roles. Our seniors have also taken on some large roles. Our starting shortstop, third baseman and centerfielder are seniors."
Fordham said there was a different sense of chemistry this year.
"There are a lot of younger girls," she said. "It's not like we are building from something we had. It was building from basically nothing. To fill those spots, we've created relationships."
Fordham said the success was a surprise to her.
"I did not think we were going to be as good," Fordham said. "Our freshman pitcher stepped up, and so did our upperclassmen."
Fordham is a senior and feels like an extra coach on the field.
"I lead by example. I'm a captain, but I'm not a vocal person," she said. "I get my job done. It's hard to take on the responsibility. I've done an OK job with that and filling my role. I have fun on and off the field. On the field, I'm more serious -- get the job done and be friends off the field."
Garza said some of the Ravens' inexperience may have played a part in the three losses.
"We could easily be undefeated," Garza said. "We have to keep fighting. My hat's tipped to all their coaches during the summer. I have very little to do with this. I just try to keep the engine running."
Five games remain on the Ravens' schedule, including a contest with perennial softball power Frederick High School.
"I get the opportunity to build a team-unity piece," Garza said. "I don't take credit for any of these girls. I try to be the mold and the glue. We're trying to find that strong bond. We're going to do what we can and continue this nice ride. Hopefully, we can finish strong."
"It's a fun team," Fordham said. "This is the best team we've had."
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