LAKEWOOD — Chatfield took another big step Wednesday toward its first Class 5A Jeffco League softball title in nearly a decade.
The Chargers — No. 6 in this week’s CHSAANow.com Class 5A softball rankings — handed No. 3 Lakewood its first loss of the season at Ray Baker Field. Chatfield (10-2 record, 4-0 in league) dominated the Tigers to a tune of 8-1.
“We’ve definitely had our eyes on this,” Chatfield coach Jen Lazzari said of the Top-10 5A showdown. “We knew this would be a big week and every league game is a big. Lakewood has been off to an incredible start.”
Chatfield got off to a great start against Lakewood (8-1, 0-1). Senior pitcher Izzy DiNapoli helped herself out with a 2-out RBI single in the top of the first inning. Then junior Kailey Horton followed up with a 2-run home run to get the Chargers out to an early 3-0 lead.
“We try to get ahead in every game to get into that groove,” Horton said. “This was a big game. We needed to come out strong and put pressure on Lakewood.”
Chatfield continued to pile up the runs in the second inning. Junior Peyton Shepard had a single, but the big help came from four walks and a hit batter issued by Lakewood junior pitcher Destiny Martinez in the inning.
The Chargers plated four more runs in the inning to grab a 7-0 lead heading to the bottom of the 2nd inning.
“We definitely try to get runs anyway we can,” Horton said. “If it is walks or getting hit by a pitch, or even hitting a sacrifice fly to advance a runner. We work hard on doing those things.”
Horton belted her second home run, a solo shot in the fourth inning to extend the lead to 8-0. The junior catcher had missed three games earlier in the year due to a concession.
“It’s good to have her (Horton) back because we need her bat in the lineup,” DiNapoli said.
DiNapoli finished with nine strikeouts while scattering three hits. She picked up her seventh victory on the mound this season. She was able to outduel Martinez, who had five wins on the season and an ERA under 1.0 entering the game.
“We know we have to score runs and I definitely feel like I throw harder against really good teams,” DiNapoli said facing off against Martinez.
Lakewood did end the shutout bid in the seventh inning. Junior Reagan Medina ripped a solo home run to end Chatfield shutout streak in 5A Jeffco League play. The Chargers have outscored their four conference opponents 35-1.
Chatfield is the lone undefeated team left in the tough league after Pomona (7-5, 2-1) suffered its first conference loss Wednesday to defending league champion Columbine (6-6, 1-2).
“It feels great, but just because we are ahead doesn’t mean we can stop working,” Horton said of the Chargers undefeated in conference play with three league game left. “We still need to push ourselves in practice to get to the next level.”
While a league softball title for the first time since 2011 would be great, Lazzari knows the Chargers have even bigger goals. Chatfield is back on the field with a non-league game on the road against 4A’s No. 2 Wheat Ridge.
“These girls have really started to buy in together,” Lazzari said of her team. “We need all nine no matter where you a playing. Good isn’t good enough. We need to be great.”
Lakewood will try to get back on track with back-to-back league games against Valor and Arvada West to end the week.
“We’ll work hard and get back at it tomorrow,” Lakewood coach Dannielle Gunn said after the Tigers’ 8-game winning streak came to an end. “We’ll work on somethings we need to adjust before Friday and Saturday games.”