GOLDEN — Softball coach Chad Herbers described the Golden Demons’ 2017 season as “magical..
“The pieces fell together,” Herbers said of Golden averaging more than 11 runs per game, racking up a 18-4 record and finishing second in the Class 4A Jeffco League. “Up and down the line-up we were able to put the ball into play. The stars aligned for us.”
The Demons had winning streaks of nine and eight games before Golden — No. 2 seed for the 4A state tournament — lost to Elizabeth in the opening round at state. While the early exit from the state tournament stung, Golden is more than ready to be in the mix in 4A Jeffco and another postseason run.
Junior twins Makayla and Makenzie Middleton are clearly the centerpiece for the Demons. The Middleton sisters put up amazing offensive numbers as sophomores. Makayla had a .533 batting average with 43 hits, 15 doubles and 26 RBIs. Makenzie batted .529 with a remarkable 12 home runs and 37 RBIs in 22 games.
“They are talents,” Herbers said of Makayla and Makenzie. “They are pure athletic talents. Probably more importantly for me is they are great kids. Their work ethic is incomparable. You aren’t going to outwork these two. They are constantly challenging themselves and everyone else.”
Makenzie admitted she was surprised with her dozen home runs last season that led 4A.
“You can’t just swing for the fences every time,” Makenzie said. “I was a sophomore in high school. People don’t think about that stuff.”
Makayla (shortstop), Makenzie (centerfielder) and returning senior pitcher Cassidy Paulson give the Demons a formidable core.
“I do think the competitiveness between us two makes us strong and better,” Makayla said. “Paulson plays with us on our competitive club team and that bond between us three really starts stuff for this team.”
Paulson has been a fixture in the pitching circle for the Demons since her freshman year and has racked up nearly 30 victories over the past three years. The senior pitcher will again have the luxury of a solid defense behind her.
“She (Paulson) is going to challenge hitters and make people put the ball in play,” Herbers said. “Since I’ve taken over the program the one thing I’ve been most confident in is our defense. They enjoy playing defense. They take pride in how they defend and they do it well.”
The biggest change for Golden once the Demons get into 4A Jeffco play is the absence of Valor Christian. The Eagles — three straight 4A state titles from 2014 to 2016 — is now playing in 5A Jeffco.
“It’s still Jeffco 4A,” Herbers said. “Although some people think we’ll be down as a league, we’ll still perform.”
D’Evelyn, Evergreen and Wheat Ridge have all had success recently. The reduction to six teams in 4A Jeffco allows league teams to get a pair of cracks against Golden this season.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us to stay the same, but I think we can handle it,” Makayla said. “I think we can compete with anybody.”
The Demons did beef up their non-league schedule. Golden faces a handful of 5A teams and defending 3A state champion Strasburg.
“We have some new goals and new standards we have to hit,” Herbers said. “Hopefully the girls pull together and come together as a team to meet those goals.”