Thomas Jefferson

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Hitting it out of the Park

Posted 10/19/2022 by Merry Shukert

After a very successful season, the softball girls celebrate their victories in a team huddle. photo by McKenzy Perkins

The Thomas Jefferson Softball team use their strength and skill to fight their way to the top. 

The Thomas Jefferson High School Softball team concluded a very successful regular season, with an impressive record of 17-5, earning them second place in the 5A/4A/3A Denver Prep League.  This past Saturday, October 15th, the team dominated both regionals games, and are currently on their way to the state championship. The Lady Spartans will fight for the state title on Friday, October 21st at Aurora Sports Park. Despite some drawbacks, the girls have found a way to persevere with teamwork and make their way up the rankings. 

Head coach Katie Tyler explained that this year’s team is very strong. “Several athletes are on track to play college softball” and are currently playing competitively, which elevates the team and allows them to have a playoff spot secured for the first time since 2019. Even with a spot secured, there have still been some obstacles that could have been the make or break for the strength of the team. 

The girls have had to overcome not only some tough losses, but also completely unexpected obstacles. Only a few games in, the girls found out that all JV games would have to be canceled immediately due to a shortage of players. During tryouts, not enough girls tried out to form two full teams, even though JV coaches had already been hired. The immediate solution was to have some varsity players fill open spots in JV games; however, this plan came to a halt when the CHSAA rule was revealed that players could only play 161 innings in a season. With varsity players playing down every game, the number of innings each athlete played would have well surpassed 161, causing them to be unable to play the last few varsity games of the season. Tyler has done her best to even out playing time for the JV players who no longer have games to play. She did this by incorporating “flex players” into the varsity games. These athletes originally switched between playing in Varsity and JV games, but now, just alternate between each other to get to join Varsity in their game. Tyler’s way of handling this obstacle had the support of a lot of the players, even freshman Lei Brewer, who was one of the girls most affected by this abrupt change in plans for the season. Brewer said that despite the fact that she doesn’t get to play in the games as often as some of the other girls,  quitting never crossed her mind, “even if you don’t play, you’re still part of the team.” She has nothing but teamwork in mind when going into this season. She described how much she loves “having competition with the other team to see who [cheers] louder.” 

While most JV players became off and on benchwarmers for Varsity, some were fortunate enough to advance their positions on the team, sometimes even permanently. For sophomore Gabi Leyva, all JV games getting canceled may have been one of the best things for her high school softball career, as she has now secured a spot on the varsity lineup and plays right field the majority of games. Leyva stated that she has been “working with two different coaches outside of [school]…hoping that I have an actual Varsity starting position next year.” With the goal of winning, the girls have combined teamwork and skill in order to encourage themselves to persevere and fight their way to the top, and they are only just getting started.