No. 5 Chatfield softball captures first 5A Jeffco League since 2011

LITTLETON — Chatfield softball coach Jen Lazzeri won’t have to break out a calculator to figure out RPI points.

The Chargers — No. 5 in the Class 5A softball rankings — locked up the 5A Jeffco League title and maybe more importantly the automatic bid to the 5A state tournament Wednesday afternoon with an 11-1 home victory against Pomona.

Chatfield junior Kailey Horton is all smiles as she rounds the bases after her solo home run in the third inning Wednesday against Pomona. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“This is so special with the year,” Chatfield coach Jen Lazzeri said of the Chargers winning their first conference softball title since 2011. “ Playing in a pandemic and losing Courtney two weeks ago, a huge emotional leader for us. These kids just have been on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s a special group. I’m so proud of them.”

Senior Courtney Bidwell was part of a group of students and staff at Chatfield who had to be quarantined for two weeks. Bidwell will be out of quarantine on Tuesday, Sept. 29, according to Lazzeri.

“It feels amazing. We were really doing it for our seniors,” Chatfield junior Kailey Horton said. “We’ve got a good group of girls, especially with our seniors we want to do the best we can for them and finish strong.”

Chatfield (12-3 record, 6-0 in league) started out a little slow offensively against Pomona (8-6, 3-2). Senior Izzy DiNapoli had an RBI single in the first inning and Horton had a solo home run in the third inning, but the Chargers stranded a pair of running in each of the first four innings.

Horton’s lead-off shot over the left field fence was a sign of what yet to come.

“It was definitely a tight game. I was just going up there looking for a base hit,” Horton said. “I definitely exceeded the expectations for myself.”

Pomona senior J'Lyssa Martinez has a stand-up double during the first inning Wednesday against Chatfield. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

A bunt single by junior Peyton Shepard and a pair of throwing errors by the Panthers allowed Shepard to score in the fourth inning to push Chatfield’s lead to 3-0. The flood gates opened in the fifth and six innings for the Chargers.

Chatfield put up five runs in the fifth and added three more in the sixth inning to induce the 10-run mercy rule to end the game.

“Our bats have been cold for a couple of weeks and we’ve been struggling,” Lazzeri said. “We just have to battle on stringing hits together. We did nothing but hit yesterday. Sometimes when you are slumping you just have to keep fighting through it.”

The Chargers cranked out 14 hits. DiNapoli led the way going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. The senior ace was also her normal dominating self in the circle. She gave up just four hits and one run for her ninth win of the season.

Pomona senior J'Lyssa Martinez broke up DiNapoli's shutout bid with a solo home run to start the sixth inning. Martinez also had a double off DiNapoli that led off the game.

“It definitely feels good because that has been our team goal from the beginning,” DiNapoli said of Chatfield winning the conference title.

Chatfield has one conference game left. The Chargers are on the road against Arvada West on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Then it will be a bit of a wait before the state tournament on Oct. 10.

Pomona has a couple of league game left. The Panthers host Ralston Valley and Lakewood next week. The Panthers are currently 20th in the RPI standings. With the conference champions and the rest of the 16-team field being determined by RPI it will be a numbers game for who will make the state tournament.

Chatfield senior Izzy DiNapoli tossed a 4-hitter with 11 strikeouts Wednesday in an 11-1 victory over Pomona. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)