Berthoud wins two of last three keeping “eye on the prize”
By Dan Karpiel
It’s all about keeping their collective eye on the prize.
That is the message Berthoud High head softball coach, Buddy Kouns, is trying to impart to his team. Despite an ugly seven-game skid in the middle of the year, Berthoud is still right in the mix for the postseason.
After the Lady Spartans picked up a pair of wins in their last three games – a comfortable 14-6 win over rival Windsor last week and a 16-1 shellacking of Skyline on Tuesday at Bein Field sandwiched a forgettable 12-1 loss to Mead on Saturday morning – Berthoud finds themselves No. 23 in 4A RPI, well within regional qualifying parameters.
“What we have to do is keep our eye on the prize,” Kouns said after Tuesday’s win. “Our strength of schedule has been crazy. We just have to fight, scratch and claw and try to get to a regional, and when we get to that regional we have to be focused and ready to go, because if we’re focused and ready to go anything can happen that day.”
Kouns admitted his team is a “great group of kids, a really great group of kids,” but sometimes the group does not always play up to their potential, and over the last month he has been working to try to figure out how to consistently get the most out of the group. “We just never know from night to night if we’re going to come to play. We just didn’t show up on Saturday. Sometimes our focus and our drive is not always where it should be,” Kouns said.
Senior centerfielder Jordan Schachterle explained the answer lies in bringing a positive mentality and keeping it even when things are not going their way. “It all comes down to keeping ourselves up,” Schachterle said. “We just have to remember the feeling we have when we’re getting those hits. We just have to keep our energy up and know that even if someone messes up, we will have more opportunities.”
In picking up the pair of critical conference wins over Skyline and Windsor, the positive mental approach was there, but the physical component was equally strong. Standout third baseman Ashlynn Balliet reached base in all four plate appearances against Windsor, blasting two homeruns and driving in a team-high three runs as Berthoud got the eight-run win over their archrivals.
Gracie Flores, Natalie Fischer and Schachterle each also recorded multiple hits in the game, while Fischer picked up the win in allowing only five earned runs and fanning three Windsor batters in seven innings inside the circle.
While the level of competition offered by Skyline, who usually finish in the bottom portion of the Tri-Valley Conference (TVC), might not have been as fierce as that offered by Windsor, picking up a 16-1 win gives Berthoud a momentum and confidence boost in addition to adding another notch in the “W” column.
In the mercy-rule-shortened contest, Berthoud took advantage of four passed balls, two hit batter, and six walks while tallying nine hits to cruise to the win. The patience the team demonstrated at the plate was an important building block and an important lesson learned and applied.
According to Schachterle, “We just have to take the pitches they give us. If they give us balls let them walk us if we need to. When we really sat back and waited for a pitch that we liked and let the bad ones go, we were successful, and I think we’ve struggled with that sometimes this year.”
Berthoud (6-9, 2-4 TVC) will face off with Erie (13-3, 5-3 TVC) on Thursday in Berthoud before playing back-to-back games with Frederick (6-9, 1-5 TVC) on Saturday and Monday.
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