BROOMFIELD — Mitch Martinez and his Holy Family softball team knew they were going to take their lumps last season.
After years of success in Class 3A, the jump to Class 4A wasn’t going to be seamless. They were playing in arguably the best league in the state, the Tri-Valley, and against one of the toughest schedules out there.
A very un-Holy Family-like 7-14 record that ended with two straight losses in the Class 4A Region 2 tournament.
But under the premise of not judging a book by its cover, what was lost in the disappointing season was they played really good, more importantly, competitive, softball near the end of the season.
“That attitude is there for us to take,” said Martinez, who missed a majority of last season while recovering from neck fusion surgery just before the season started. “Especially the way we finished the end of last year and start from that.”
The game that stands out in demonstrating how far the Tigers had come was at the close of the regular season against Brighton, ranked at the time as No 1 in 5A. The Tigers took a 2-1 lead to the seventh inning and had even more chances to score against the Bulldogs, but eventually dropped a 3-2 decision.
The result opened some eyes and allowed the Tigers to sneak into the regional tournament.
“What we talked about a lot is the fact that we were able to get people on base and we would do all the right things, we just couldn’t get the timely hit,” Martinez said. “Our goal this year is to bring those runs across.”
Holy Family will be tested right out of the gate against some of the states heaviest hitters. Five of its first seven games come against teams ranked in CHSAANow.com‘s preseason polls, including 5A No. 3 Broomfield, and the other two are games against always-tough Roosevelt and 5A Regis Jesuit.
“It is just about competing and believing in ourselves,” said senior Natalie Gardon, who was an all-league selection last year at shortstop. “Last year we kind of had our doubts, knowing that teams we played were really tough and we just didn’t have that confidence.
“This year we have the confidence in knowing that we can compete.”
And the Tigers enter the 2015 season with a group of four seniors who bring a wealth of experience. Gardon, first baseman Jazmin Means, Emily Georgia (who missed all of last season because of injury) and Legacy transfer Kamryn Brothers will all provide potent bats in what could be a formidable lineup.
“This is both a good pitching team and hitting team, and if we improve in both we could be a really solid team,” said Means, who hit .283 last season with five doubles. “(Coach Martinez) is always telling us to go up to the plate with two strikes and automatically just go with the first pitch.”
The Tigers also get Kendall Holmes back from injury and she will assume the pitching duties along with sophomore Jalen Gonzales, who got valuable time in the circle last season.