Five seasons ago, Horizon softball was competing in the Elite 8 of the 5A state tournament. Coming off an 8-15 clip last year, the youthful, athletic squad hopes to make consistent strides in a …
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Five seasons ago, Horizon softball was competing in the Elite 8 of the 5A state tournament. Coming off an 8-15 clip last year, the youthful, athletic squad hopes to make consistent strides in a highly competitive Front Range Conference in 2019.
After four consecutive losing seasons, 7th-year Horizon manager Gary Mares sees a light at the end of the tunnel. Five freshmen found their way into the starting lineup last year, and the young core reminds Mares of a previous, successful group.
“I’m really excited. It reminds me of that class from that (2014) state playoff team,” he said in a phone interview last week. “Very athletic, they can run and very coachable.”
Some of these exciting players include junior Rylee Crouch and sophomores Alexis Mohr, Lily Simmons. Mares raved about the improvements of Crouch and Simmons over offseason workouts. Their versatility plus Mohr, an all-conference recipient and all-state honorable mention a season ago will anchor a squad ready to make some noise.
“We want to be better than we were last year and hopefully, that comes in the win column,” Mares said. “Our goal every year is to make the postseason. Once you get into the postseason, you just got to get hot on that Saturday and see what happens. We also need to finish over .500 in our league.”
Horizon, despite a 1-6 overall start last year, did compete in conference play, going 5-6. Mares harped on the necessity to put the ball in play offensively while also performing clean defensively. With perennial powers Legacy and Fossil Ridge at the top of the conference, recording a winning record could be the first step for the Lady Hawks moving forward.
“In our league, you have to be able to pick it, catch it and throw it. When you get runners on also, you have to make sure you get them in because those teams are going to put the pressure on you. They are that good.”
Horizon lost four seniors from last year’s team to graduation.
With no full-time returning senior starters coming back, the team could turn out to be younger than last season. Mares’ group has been in the weight room since February, and he anticipates it paying off in the victory category in 2019.
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