Satisfaction Trumps Disappointment as Season Ends

By Doug Fitzgerald published May 6, 2006

DENVER â€" The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball teamâ€TMs season came to an end Saturday afternoon with an 11-9 loss to the Colorado State Thunderwolves in the semifinals of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament at Regis Field. The Mountain Lions reached the semifinals with a 9-4 win over the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers Saturday morning.

UCCS opened the tournament with a win over Mesa State on Friday before being dropped into the loserâ€TMs bracket of the double-elimination tournament by top-seeded Regis. From there, the Mountain Lions won elimination games against Adams State and Nebraska-Kearney before finally falling to CSU-Pueblo. When the Mountain Lions finally bowed out, they had handed each of the other eliminated teams one of their two losses.

“Weâ€TMre extremely proud of this group,” said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. “I really donâ€TMt think anybody expected us to win 36 games, then to climb out of the loserâ€TMs bracket that way and make it all the way to here â€" weâ€TMre really proud.”

It was the final collegiate game for UCCS seniors Brittni Carlson, Janine Ota, Sonia Reyes and Amanda Ritchie. Carlson, Ota and Reyes went out with a flourish, combining to go 11-for-22 with 11 runs scored and eight RBIs in Saturdayâ€TMs games. Ritchie, meanwhile, earned both decisions while showing the competitive fire tat has become her trademark.

“Weâ€TMre sad for the seniors, but boy are we excited about the future,” said Peterson, who has put together yet another exciting recruiting class. “I think we sent a pretty good message (in the tournament).”

But the sadness didnâ€TMt seem to transcend to the seniors themselves. Carlson, for one, wore a smile of satisfaction afterwards. She surveyed the scene like a proud parent, perhaps feeling a little of what Kevin and Lisa Carlson will be feeling very soon when they watch their daughter receive her degree.

“This team grew a lot this weekend,” said Brittni Carlson. “I saw plays out of people I havenâ€TMt seen before. I saw a lot of heart. Iâ€TMm just so proud of everybody and what they did for us this weekend.”

The Mountain Lions took the early lead on a Carlson RBI single and a two-run double by Savannah Ledford in the top of the first inning.

That lead quickly evaporated. With UCCS starter Angie Heronema unable to find the strike zone, the Thunderwolves contented themselves with an afternoon stroll, drawing eight walks in the first two innings. Those walks led to six CSU-Pueblo runs and a 6-3 deficit for UCCS.

The Mountain Lions evened the count in the third on Otaâ€TMs RBI single and a two-run double by Reyes. UCCS had a repeat performance of the first inning in the third with Carlson bringing home one and Ledford driving in two.

But the Mountain Lionsâ€TM three-run lead wouldnâ€TMt hold. The Thunderwolves scored runs in the fourth and fifth innings before Jennifer Papik and Savannah Byers hit home runs in the sixth, Papikâ€TMs a two-run shot, to give CSU-Pueblo an 11-9 advantage that UCCS couldnâ€TMt overcome in the seventh.

UCCS never trailed in the morning game. Reyesâ€TM solo homer in the third made it 1-0, and then Ota, Ledford and Reyes all drove in runs in the fourth to make it 4-1.

The Mountain Lions blew the game open in the fifth with a Lindsay Shandera three-run homer and a two-run single by Sarah Brisky.

While the final rally fell short against CSU-Pueblo, the Mountain Lions were upbeat, realizing that maximizing your potential is the true measure of accomplishment.

“We came into this tournament totally underestimated and proved to everybody we are a fighting team,” said Carlson. “Next year weâ€TMre going to be back; weâ€TMre going to be back and weâ€TMre going to be competing.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32IFFr.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson321BSo.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32OFJr.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32OFSR.
Sonia ReyesSonia Reyes13IFSo.
Sonia ReyesSonia Reyes133BJr.
Sonia ReyesSonia Reyes133BSR
Amanda RitchieAmanda Ritchie17PJr.
Amanda RitchieAmanda Ritchie17PJr.
Angie HeronemaAngie Heronema1P
Savannah LedfordSavannah Ledford24SS
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