(Second in a series of fall previews for the 2018 season.)
“Ask me in 20 years.”
So said new Mullen softball coach Alan Colglazier when asked to assess his team’s chances for the fall season.
A man who excelled both as a player and coach not only nationally, but also on the world level, certainly wants to win with the Mustangs. However, he’s bigger on character and wants his group to act accordingly.
“No. 1,” he said, “I like the enthusiasm. “I like the work ethic and I like the attitude. They’ve been very open and receptive to what we are trying to do.”
He pointed to the Norman Dale character in the classic “Hoosiers,” saying “we need to understand who we are and what we can be. We’re going to focus 80 percent of practice time on throwing and catching the ball. When it’s in play, we have to make the play.”
Mullen was 16-9 a year ago and 4-3 in the Class 5A Centennial League. The Mustangs advanced to the 4A semifinals at the Aurora Sports Park before falling 7-4 to eventual champion Mountain View of Loveland.
Six seniors are gone from last year’s roster, but enough returning experience and incoming freshmen talent appear in place for another run. The Mustangs have won three 4A championships – 1996, 1999 and 2001.
Junior workhorse pitcher Marissa Sanchez returns and also caught the eye of Colglazier through her summer ball. And the likes of Bella Hawkins, Emma DiGiacomo, Avery Panozzo, Tiffanie Brieno and Alexis Duran should comprise most of the every-day lineup and batting order.
These Mustangs figure to be interchangeable.
“I like girls competing for positions,” Colglazier said.
Overall, Colglazier added, considering he’s coming in fresh but also well aware of what Mullen was and still can be, he said he has been “pleased initially. We’re doing a lot of things differently throwing and catching. And we’re combining conditioning with mechanics.”
Pitching and defense remain large keys as “we have to make the routine play and then once in a while make the outstanding play.”
With high-end playing experience as well as several coaching stops on the prep, college, national and international levels, Colglazier, who also operates a pitching academy, is confident the Mustangs will compete against a demanding schedule. The opener is Aug. 14 at Holy Family in Broomfield, followed by 5A nonleaguers back-to-back at home versus Chatfield (Aug. 22) and Regis Jesuit (Aug. 23), then another 5A toughie on Aug. 28 at Columbine.
“We’re going to see who we are right off the bat,” Colglazier said.
Next will be two challenging tournaments, at Erie Aug. 20-Sept. 1, and at Bixby, Okla., Sept. 6-8. The Centennial League opener will be Sept. 20 at Cherry Creek.
With an increase of regular-season games from 19-to-23, softball’s regular season begins on Thursday, Aug. 9, and will run through Oct. 6. Regionals are to be completed by Oct. 13. The state tournament will be Oct. 19-20.
Any legitimate edge, Colglazier said, is worth exploring, beginning with the basics.
“We have to be more structured and do what other teams aren’t willing to do,” he said.