Coal Ridge softball refused to go quietly in a tight, 3-2 loss to North Fork during Thursday night’s homecoming game.
Down to set point in both the second and fifth sets, the Titans rallied back from deficits close to 10. In set two, they forced a 24-24 tie before dropping the next two points. In set five, they trailed by as many as eight before closing the gap to three with their backs against the wall. Neither rally panned out, but they might have under normal circumstances. The match was the Titans’ second of the week, as many practices as they’ve had over the past 14 days due to COVID-19 related quarantining.
“I don’t want to make excuses, but we lost eight days of practice in nine days,” Coal Ridge head coach Aimee Gerber said. “That kind of hurt in the flow of the season and trying to get ready for league play.”
Coal Ridge was already in a rebuilding year. After a first-place league finish in 2019, the Titans graduated only two seniors with a substantial junior core. After the COVID-induced spring season and a third-place finish, they graduated six, leaving only one major contributor from that league-winning team the year before — Peyton Garrison, who played 47 sets that season according to MaxPreps Colorado data.
Gerber was tasked with creating a new starting lineup but hasn’t yet been able to put a consistent group on the court.
Between the quarantine and other factors — injuries and personal issues — Gerber said she hasn’t had all of her starters on the court for a single game. A team trying to put the puzzle together has been short at least a piece on a nightly basis.
“We have a lot of girls to fill in and we do good with that but it’ll be nice to have everyone back,” junior Emma Morgan said. Morgan started in the spring and played a swing role on the 2019 league championship club. “It’s definitely different than all of our other teams in the past, but I think we have good potential to be a really good, scrappy team this year.”
Morgan said the team, which is laden with upper-class talent despite its relative lack of varsity experience, knows the game well. She says they don’t have the tall hitters other teams do, but can make up for it with scrappiness.
In the North Fork loss, they demonstrated some of that scrap. A team at set point with a substantial lead felt the pressure twice.
Morgan also said she expected the full lineup to be in action come next week, and it’s all about building momentum and rhythm from there. The Titans have nine games remaining, seven of which are league contests. If they can get a consistent lineup out on the court, stay healthy and avoid other distractions, Gerber believes the team has a chance to make some noise.
“I just hope we can peak at the right time,” Gerber said.
Coal Ridge travels to Rifle on Tuesday for their next match.