LITTLETON — Chatfield softball coach Jen Lazzeri hopes the Chargers’ blazing 4-0 record to start the season is the beginning of ending a nearly decade-long drought.
“That’s our goal,” Lazzeri said of Chatfield going after the Class 5A Jeffco League title that the Chargers last won in 2011. “We keep talking about it. This group all got a taste what it’s like to be at the state tournament last year. I think they are starting to believe. I think once they start believing the sky is the limit for this group.”
The Chargers grabbed a 12-4 victory against D’Evelyn (0-1) on Tuesday afternoon. Juniors Isabelle DiNapoli and Madison Shepard led the way for Chatfield. DiNapoli tossed a complete-game victory striking out eight.
DiNapoli also helped herself out at the plate with a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning that gave the Chargers a 4-0 lead.
“Those two kids (DiNapoli and Shepard) are a huge pieces of our line-up, offensively and defensively. Madison, I think is one of the best shortstops in the state,” Lazzeri said. “You can count on those two to come in and be clutch.”
Shepard put the game way with a line-drive home run during the Chargers’ six-run bottom of the sixth inning after D’Evelyn closed Chatfield’s lead to 6-4.
“It felt really good and helped pick up the team’s energy,” Shepard said of her two-run blast. “We really felt like we had the game in the bag after that.”
While Lazzeri was pleased with her Chargers cranking out 14 hits to produce double-digit runs for the third time already this season, four defensive errors was something Lazzeri — starting her third season at the helm of Chatfield’s softball program — knows her teams needs to clean up.
“People are going to hit the ball against Isabelle,” Lazzeri said. “Our defense has to be ready. We can’t be complacent defensively.”
Shepard believes the Chargers’ experience and talent can propel Chatfield to reach its goals this season.
“I think a league title and going far in state is all a possibility,” Shepard said.
D’Evelyn is always in the mix for the 4A Jeffco title and berth to the state tournament. The Jaguars were runner-up to Golden in the conference race last season, but a pair of one-run losses at regionals left D’Evelyn on the outside looking in to the 4A state tournament.
Senior Peyton Balbin has been a fixture in the Jaguars’ line-up for the past three season. Balbin started her final opening game behind the plate for the Jaguars against Chatfield.
“It’s crazy. Seems like just last week I was a freshman playing my first game catching ever,” Balbin said. “Now it’s my first game of my last season catching. It’s crazy thinking about how time flies by.”
D’Evelyn gets against another tough test versus another 5A Jeffco team Thursday when the Jaguars host Columbine (3-0). Chatfield hosts Mullen on Thursday before heading to the very competitive Erie Tournament of Champions next week.