LONGMONT — After making the regional field in softball for the first time in quite a while last season, Longmont pitcher Angie Mitchell felt at the beginning of 2017 that the Trojans were a team on the rise — and for good reason.
Already deep in Northern League play after just five games, however, the Trojans haven't quite found the results initially they were expecting. A lot can be said about them having to play Mountain View, Northridge and Thompson Valley early, but Longmont was still looking for that game that re-installed some confidence.
That came Tuesday afternoon against Centaurus, where the squad exploded for five first-inning runs and ended up scoring in every inning on their way to a 12-2 win. It's that all-important first league win Mitchell said the team can build on.
"We've really built up from last year, and qualifying for the regionals for the first time in 12 years with a team of some freshmen and a couple of juniors and seniors, it just really feels like we're building for the future," said Mitchell, who struck out 11 batters on her way to her first complete game.
"It's really nice when you're able to get off to a good start and just get to play happy, and it's a lot easier to lift each other up when the downs happen."
Mitchell, a sophomore, has been a pleasant surprise in the circle for the Trojans, who are now 2-3 overall and 1-3 in the Northern League. Her first varsity season has included some innings against those tougher teams, and she's shown the uncanny ability to work the strike zone effectively. In 13 total innings pitched, she has struck out 21 batters including the total against the Warriors (1-7, 0-4).
The Trojans already had senior Jenna Moore available to pitch this season, but Mitchell has added another arm that head coach Kelsey Walters can depend on.
On Tuesday, Centaurus managed a pair of rare early runs, scoring twice in the first inning, before Mitchell really settled down to work. She allowed but one really big hit after that stanza — a double off the bat of Tomi Kay Borrego in the fifth — but generally threw some crafty pitches to get the Warriors to swing and miss.
The experiences against the tougher teams has helped Mitchell develop rather quickly, she said.
"Getting into the games more has given me the chance to work into a rhythm, just trying to get my pitches in there and being able to rely on my catchers," Mitchell added. "(Facing tough competition) makes me a better pitcher. You get to understand how different hitters work."
Longmont's Aislin Khleif got her team started on the right foot with a first-inning home run and finished 4-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBI. The Trojans walked the game off when Khleif broke for home unexpectedly on a post-pitch throw back to the pitcher from the catcher.
For Warriors head coach Jason Crispin, who took over the program with just days to spare before the first practice, there were some things he thought the team could build on.
"What we came away with today was that we showed we have the ability to make the plays to start to compete, and hopefully they felt a bit of what that's like and use it," Crispin said. "Usually when we've been scoring it's been late in games, so it was nice to see us come out and jump on some opportunities."
Longmont 12, Centaurus 2
At Longmont HS
Centaurus (1-7, 0-4)200 00 — 2 3 4
Longmont (2-3, 1-3)523 11 — 12 11 2
W — Mitchell. L — Chicksi.
Centaurus hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Handwerker 2-1-0-0, Borrego 3-0-0-0, Chicksi 3-1-1-1, Malone 2-0-0-0, Burgos 1-0-1-0, MacDonald 2-0-1-0, Cox 2-0-0-0, Reynolds 2-0-0-0, Uchida 1-0-0-0, Berry 1-0-0-0. Totals 19-2-3-1.
Longmont hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Khleif 4-3-3-3, Dillow 3-2-0-0, Moore 3-1-1-0, Sabol 3-1-2-2, Alaniz 3-1-1-1, Bustamante 3-1-0-1, Mitchell 3-1-1-0, Simmons 1-1-0-0, Nicholas 3-1-1-1. Totals 26-12-11-8.
Centaurus pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Chicksi 5-10-12-7-3-1.
Longmont pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Mitchell 5-3-2-1-2-11.