Frederick shortstop Mae Mitchell contributed 16 extra-base hits to a potent Warriors lineup last season.
Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer
Frederick shortstop Mae Mitchell contributed 16 extra-base hits to a potent Warriors lineup last season.

FREDERICK — The Frederick softball team is all about playing by the rules. But the Warriors lineup doesn’t present itself as one that is going to abide by the traditional elements of the game in 2015.

Sure, the term “sacrifice bunt” might still be in their lexicon, but let it be known the Warriors are a squad looking to crush it this year as they bid to make a repeat run at the Class 4A state championship.

“If we need to (play small-ball) we will, but we always go (all out),” said senior shortstop Mae Mitchell after a recent practice.

The Warriors have a number of returning players from one of the state’s most powerful lineups of a year ago. In driving to a near flawless mark for the season — coming within a couple runs of going 25-0 and nabbing that 4A title — Frederick finished in the top four in home runs (21), doubles (50) and triples (17). Combining all extra base hits, Frederick trailed only Niwot was the most potent hitting squad in 4A.

Game in and game out, the Warriors should be an exciting team to watch this year. For Mitchell, there is a lot of comfort knowing she and her teammates have the same mindset at the plate.

“I’m excited because all the way through, our lineup is just a power house,” Mitchell added, herself coming off a season with 16 extra-base hits. “I just have a feeling we’re going to have a lot of RBI’s and hopefully just run over a lot of teams. We hope to be that good.”

Junior Paris Woods leads the contingent of solid-swinging batters, and actually, most of the middle-of-the-lineup bashers are junior classmates.

Alicia Hernandez, a top-tier pitcher in all of 4A, and battery-mate Hannah Ellis also return fresh off solid sophomore campaigns. Senior Savannah Hall rounds out the meat of the order that looks scary-good on paper.

“The way we’re hitting the ball in practice, I’m very satisfied,” said head coach Roger Dufour, whose team is ranked second behind defending champion Valor Christian in the preseason softball poll. “Any time you get a bunch of girls that hit the ball hard and long, it becomes tough outs, and as long as you get girls in front of them on base … we want to fill the bases up and then hit with the power.”

With the staunch lineup and a pitcher like Hernandez (23-1, 1.24 earned run average and 201 strikeouts in 158 innings), there are few questions about weaknesses.

But Dufour, the longtime face of the Warriors program who encourages his squad to push the envelope, knows every team has them. This year, the lone areas of concern include finding a table-setter and dealing mentally with setbacks.

The fact Frederick reeled off 24 straight wins in 2014 was no fluke, but going undefeated up until the championship game is not something the Warriors feel they have to repeat.

They would like to repeat a lot of what they did do, though with a little different ending.

“The main thing about last year was, we got there and got a great taste of that experience as far as the state tournament and, furthermore, the championship game,” Dufour said. “The nucleus was in that sophomore and junior class. I feel very comfortable in a number of areas. We’ve instilled that confidence in the girls that we can win a championship.”

“It’s going to be different this year, for sure,” Mitchell said reflecting on their runner-up finish.

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