ERIE — Niwot’s softball team proved this weekend at the Erie Festival of Champions that their hitting lineup has some pop.
It’s getting back into the dugout that the Cougars are continuing to struggle with. After scoring seven runs in the first inning against Pueblo South on Saturday at Erie High School, the Cougars couldn’t push across any more runs while the Colts bashed and banged their way to a 20-7 final.
For their first three contests of the Erie tournament — they had a late Saturday game against Wheat Ridge, as well — Niwot scored 21 runs and 17 of those came in their first round of at-bats. But, in going 0-3 they allowed a total of 50 runs.
“We got off to some good starts, for sure, but we’re just not able to find ways to ride that throughout,” head coach Bobby Matthews said. “I mean, this game (against Pueblo South), we gave up 20 unanswered runs and you just can’t do that.”
Niwot has turned to position players Esme O’Rourke and Jaila Johnson to pitch this season, and to their credit on Saturday against Pueblo South they stayed in and around the strike zone. But enough pitches were on the wrong side of the borderline, and Pueblo South used those free baserunners to pile on runs with some defensive mistakes also mixed in.
The Cougars are still searching for consistency in several positions in the field, Matthews said, and the overall youth of the team played a role in outcomes.
“We’re just not executing on some simple plays, and that shows up when you play really good teams,” Matthews added. “Both our pitchers are inexperienced. They are efficient and they’re doing what we’re asking of them, but we’re not playing defense behind them. But we’ll keep coaching them up on focus on the (Northern) League and winning the games we’re supposed to win there.”
South was just one of the traditional Colorado powers to be involved in the Festival, and the tournament sees several Oklahoma juggernauts come out to participate, as well.
It’s a popular tournament for Legacy, Broomfield, Frederick and the host Tigers — and it was a mixed bag of results for those teams, generally speaking.
Legacy wrapped up the tournament with a late Saturday game against Grandview, but the Lightning secured a pair of wins by beating Sequoyah (Okla.) 15-8 and Legend 8-6 on Thursday and Friday.
Broomfield also got on the winning track with victories over Union (Okla.), Rock Canyon and Grandview, while Frederick went 2-1 with wins over Grandview and Discovery Canyon.
Host Erie had a tough draw and came up short in three games. The Tigers fell 10-6 to 5A state contender Eaglecrest, 11-2 to Legend and also lost 3-1 to Broken Arrow (Okla.).