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Softball: Ranked No. 9, resurgent Frederick falls to No. 7 Riverdale Ridge

After going 6-17 last fall, Warriors looking to claim 4A postseason berth with strong finish

  • FREDERICK, CO - September 22, 2020: Elli Clapp, of Frederick, tags out Kyla Humphreys, of Riverdale Ridge. Riverdale Ridge traveled to Frederick on September 22, 2020 for high school softball. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • FREDERICK, CO - September 22, 2020: Amelia Brown, of Frederick, hits a double. Riverdale Ridge traveled to Frederick on September 22, 2020 for high school softball. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • FREDERICK, CO - Sept. 22, 2020 Ali Davis, of Frederick, is forced out at home as the ball gets to catcher, Destiny Hackney, of Riverdale Ridge. Riverdale Ridge traveled to Frederick on Sept. 22, 2020 for high school softball.

  • FREDERICK, CO - September 22, 2020: Kyla Mares, of Frederick, makes the catch in the outfield. Riverdale Ridge traveled to Frederick on September 22, 2020 for high school softball. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • FREDERICK, CO - September 22, 2020: Haley Howell, of Frederick High School, pitched against Riverdale Ridge on September 22, 2020. Riverdale Ridge traveled to Frederick on September 22, 2020 for high school softball. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • FREDERICK, CO - September 22, 2020: Haley Howell, of Frederick High School, is safe on first with the late throw to Nikki Waddle at first on September 22, 2020. Riverdale Ridge traveled to Frederick on September 22, 2020 for high school softball. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    FREDERICK, CO - September 22, 2020: Elli Clapp, of Frederick, tags out Kyla Humphreys, of Riverdale Ridge. Riverdale Ridge traveled to Frederick on September 22, 2020 for high school softball. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • FREDERICK, CO - September 22, 2020: Fans that couldn't get into the field because of COVID-19 restrictions watched outside the fences. Riverdale Ridge traveled to Frederick on September 22, 2020 for high school softball. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • FREDERICK, CO - September 22, 2020: Haley Howell, of Frederick High School, pitched against Riverdale Ridge on September 22, 2020. Riverdale Ridge traveled to Frederick on September 22, 2020 for high school softball. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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FREDERICK – Benefitting from a year of maturation and a hot start to an unusual season, the Frederick softball team is in the midst of a rather miraculous turnaround.

Last season, the Warriors went 6-17 and finished last in the Tri-Valley League. Now they’re a top-five team in the Class 4A RPI heading down the stretch of the regular season and narrowly missed a Longs Peak League title, losing 6-2 to No. 7-ranked Riverdale Ridge on Tuesday.

“Since we’ve had time to grow together as a team, we really trust each other more,” Warriors junior Ali Davis said. “We know where our strengths and weaknesses are. It’s just been a lot of working together and figuring out how to pick each other up when someone else is down.

“Last year, nobody was having a lot of fun because we’d show up to games and already expect to lose. But now, we come to play and we come to have fun.”

At Frederick High School on Tuesday, Davis had one of six total hits for the ninth-ranked Warriors (9-4, 6-2) and is now batting .340 through 13 games of the 16-game regular season. The Warriors, however, couldn’t string enough hits together and the Ravens (12-1, 8-1) clinched the league title with their 10th straight victory.

“We just couldn’t hit,” Frederick head coach Roger Dufour said. “Just couldn’t string them together.”

A two-run sixth inning pulled the Warriors within two late in the game. But the visiting Ravens pushed the lead back to four with a pair of their own in the top of the seventh. Frederick got two runners on base but couldn’t push either across the plate in the bottom of the inning.

The Warriors have two four-game win streaks this season and their average margin in losses before Tuesday was 1.3 runs. They entered Tuesday’s game sitting fourth in the 4A RPI standings with three games remaining – a pair against Niwot (5-8, 3-5) and one against Berthoud (7-5, 6-4) – with a good chance to claim a spot in the 16-team Class 4A playoffs. Only league champions are guaranteed a tournament berth.

Frederick’s Peyton Gale entered the game with a 1.136 OPS, as well as a team-leading 17 RBIs, and went 1-for-3 on Tuesday. Kyla Mares went hitless in Tuesday’s game despite batting a team-high .447 and 12 RBIs through 13 games. Sophomore Haley Howell came in with a 3.93 ERA over 62.1 innings in the circle and games up five earned runs, though she also went 2-for-3 at the plate.

The Warriors certainly have been one of this coronavirus-altered season’s most pleasant storylines. But if they want to accomplish their goal of returning to the postseason, where the program has consistently been for over the past decade, they believe they’ll have to finish the regular season with a flurry.

“We’ve got to take care of business and I think we’ve got to win out to really have a shot,” Dufour said.