Lady Spartans ready to crack open softball season

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And one of those early steps for the Berthoud High School softball team involved a carton of eggs.

For the final drill in Tuesday afternoon’s practice, softball coach, Ashtin Williamson, had her team play a game of egg toss. The players formed pairs with each grouping aligning roughly 10 feet apart. One in the twosome was given a fresh egg and instructed to toss it to her counterpart. If the egg was caught without breaking, the pair would separate by “a few big steps” and toss again. After a few minutes − and a lot of giggles − only one pairing was left without some amount of yoke, whites and shell fragments on their fingers.

It was a fun and light-hearted way to conclude what was a grueling practice in the searing August heat, but one that Coach Williamson believes teaches a valuable lesson; “Eggs teach the girls to use soft hands and absorb the shock.” Williamson explained that she often talks about the ball as if it were an egg, and how the team should not crack that egg; a metaphor for taking care of the ball in the field.

The egg-toss drill was representative of the new approach Williamson brings to the Lady Spartans squad, one that will look far different from the 2013 team that reached the state quarter finals. Berthoud has only one returning senior – centerfielder Jessi Boruff – after having lost eight players to graduation.

“I’m very impressed; there is a lot of raw talent and that makes me very excited. They’re fresh and they’re really excited to be here,” Williamson said.

Possibly as a result of the turnover on the roster, the Lady Spartans found themselves outside the top-10 in the Colorado High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) preseason rankings. It is not something that caught much attention from the team, however, as Williamson explained, “That’s not our focus; our focus is on wins and our goals and becoming better as a program and not what other people think we should be.”

The coach explained that each player keeps a notebook with their own personal goals for the season and the team has its season goals as a collective that are centered around, “Being cohesive as a group…and playing as a team,” and added that a return to state is “definitely,” something on which the team has its sights set.

For their part, two key players who return from the 2013 team – Boruff and junior pitcher Taylor Armitage – think the team can make a run in state this year.

“I think with the girls we have now we have a good shot at making it (to state),” said Armitage.

Boruff, who said she enjoys the leadership role that comes with being the team’s lone senior added, “With the girls’ work ethic I think we can get back to state…but I just expect out of my teammates to always do their best and always give 110 percent.”

The young Lady Spartans and their rookie head coach will get something of a baptism by fire to begin the 2014 season, traveling to Tri Valley Conference defending champion and No.1 ranked Erie for their first game next Tuesday. Berthoud will then host Thompson Valley on Friday August, 22 in the home opener.