Last year, The Colony softball team was on a roll. The Lady Cougars started the season with a record of 15-3-1 before the COVID-19 pandemic denied the team a chance to clinch their 10th straight playoff berth.
Fast-forward to Tuesday evening, and The Colony had assured itself of yet another postseason appearance. The question was: Where would the Lady Cougars finish in the District 10-5A standings?
Buoyed by a three-run single by sophomore Sydney Young, The Colony cruised to a 12-1 run-rule win in five innings on senior night, clinching third place in the district. The Lady Cougars (10-12-2 overall 9-4 district) also benefitted from 10 walks and five hit batsmen.
The latest win for The Colony serves as a microcosm of a big turnaround by the Lady Cougars. The Colony started the season with just one win and two ties in their first six games, but has rebounded nicely in district play to pull within two games of the .500 mark.
“Everybody can see the growth,” said Deana Coleman, The Colony head coach. “We are so young and I am just so proud of how everyone has helped each other. This is truly a team. They are unselfish. They are not out for any kind of self promotion. They’re not worried about accolades. They’re not worried about anything. They’re worried about, ‘Did we learn? And are we growing?’ It’s a great combination of great kids with a great work ethic. I’m just so proud of them.”
And just like in their other district games, the Lady Cougars rode another strong offensive performance.
In the case of Tuesday’s game, it was a six-run second inning that proved to be the difference. Sophomore Payton Blanco drew a bases-loaded walk to drive for the first run. The Lady Cougars’ next batter, fellow sophomore Sydney Young, delivered the big blow – a three-run singled that increased The Colony’s lead to 4-0. A dropped fly ball in left field by North allowed two more runs to cross the plate for the Lady Cougars.
Young was just as clutch on the mound.
On a night in which both pitching staffs had to contend with chilly temperatures as well as a brisk wind, North had several opportunities to score runs off the sophomore right-hander. The Lady Bulldogs drew back-to-back walks to start the game, but Young induced three straight fly-outs to end the top of the first. Then, in the visitor’s half of the second inning, a strikeout by Young stranded two more North base runners.
Young allowed just one run on seven hits with two walks and a strikeout in four innings. Kaitlyn Moeller, also a sophomore, came in on relief in the fifth and retired the side in order. North’s only run of the game came when freshman Hayllee Lavallee scored on a double steal.
“I told my assistant three times, ‘I can’t even hold onto the ball right now,’” Coleman said. “I can’t even be mad about our pitchers missing pitches because it is so cold. My fingers are numb. My toes are numb. For Kaitlyn to come in at the end and close it like she did, I’m so proud, because that can’t be easy due to the fact that she hadn’t pitched all night.”