Lady Spartans extend win streak to four

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

It is “crunch time” in the high school softball season; the late portion of the year, when the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders. And the Berthoud High Lady Spartans softball team has been doing work, winning four straight games and aligning themselves with the ranks of the contenders.

The Lady Spartans have been winning convincingly, besting Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) foes Mead and Roosevelt by 10-6 and 15-0 final scores, respectively, in their last two contests. Despite the wins, Berthoud finds themselves looking up at Windsor, Erie and Frederick in the TVC standings with only three games – including two against Frederick and Windsor – remaining on the schedule.

“Yeah we know we have a lot of things at stake, but like I’ve said and like I’ve stressed, from here on out they’re all must-wins, and we’re taking it one game at a time, one strike at a time, one pitch at a time, and just focus every second of the game,” said Berthoud Head Coach Ashtin Williamson.

Berthoud 15, Roosevelt 0

For a while, through 11 of the 12 needed outs, to be precise, it looked as though Berthoud pitcher Larissa Royer was going to throw her second no-hitter in as many starts. Then Roosevelt’s Bailey Thompson slapped a line-drive single that was out of reach, by a matter of inches, of the glove of Berthoud second baseman Delaney Fouts. Thompson was left stranded at first, however, when Royer struck out Ashley Ortiz to end the game.

Royer was once again lights-out, striking out seven on her way to a one-hit shutout as the Lady Spartans cruised to the 15-0 mercy-rule win over TVC rival Roosevelt Tuesday afternoon at Bein Field in Berthoud. Backed up by a stalwart defense, it was her fifth win in her last five starts and her second straight shut-out.

“We know we have to win and we have to buckle down and come out hard and, if we don’t, we’re not going to make it to the postseason and that’s what we all want,” said shortstop Sydney Kouns, who went two-for-three and scored a pair of runs in the game.

And come out hard they did. The Lady Spartans took control of the game early with the top of their order doing the damage. Berthoud’s first three batters – Hannah Langer, Taylor Armitage and Jessi Boruff − went triple, homerun, homerun to give the home team a 3-0 lead before Roughriders pitcher Makayla Deeter had thrown even six pitches.

Over the mercy-rule shortened four-inning game, every player in the Berthoud order reached base at least once, eight of nine crossed home plate at least once, as the Lady Spartans tallied 16 hits and 15 runs scored. Boruff and Armitage drove in five and three runs, respectively, and Armitage and Langer each scored four times.

Berthoud 10, Mead 6

In what might not have been a perfectly-played game, the Lady Spartans notched a critical win against TVC foe Mead last Thursday at BHS. Berthoud experienced some ups and downs early on while running with a batting order and defensive lineup that was different from their norm.

Yet with Armitage in the circle, the junior surrendered just four earned runs and struck out 10 on the way to earning her fifth win of the season, Berthoud was able to get the 10-6 victory in grind-it-out fashion.

“I think we just weren’t in our groove quite right…we didn’t come out as competitive and as intense as we usually do,” Armitage said after the game.

Despite committing a pair of errors and allowing Mead to cross home plate twice in the top of the first, Berthoud took the lead and never looked back in the bottom half of the frame. Royer, batting leadoff and playing catcher, worked a walk and then subsequent base hits from Fouts, Armitage, Nicole Maheu and Kouns pushed four runs across the plate for the Lady Spartans.

Berthoud switched to a more familiar defensive alignment – with Hannah Langer behind the plate, Herbert at first and Royer at third – that appeared to make the whole team more comfortable, as in the final three innings the Lady Spartans did not surrender a single run and allowed only two players to reach base.

“I think that I just needed to find my own groove, as well as everyone else, and when we did we just brought it all back together,” said Armitage.

Crunch time gets crunchier for the Lady Spartans over their next three games. Berthoud (11-5, 5-4) will travel to TVC first-place and Class 4A number one Frederick (17-0, 10-0) Sept. 25. The Lady Spartans then hosts Windsor Sept. 30 at Bein Field.

“They’re definitely both tough opponents, but I know we can do it because we gave them a run for their money, and I know we can handle them,” said Kouns when asked about her team’s next two games.

“If we play our game they have no chance.”