(Fourth in a series of fall previews for 2019).
Year I for Mullen softball and new head coach Alan Colglazier was about picking up the program, gaining familiarity and laying the ground work for a return to power.
Year II will be about competing among Colorado’s elite.
And Colglazier is confident the Mustangs are on track.
“The girls are upbeat and excited,” he said. “Our expectations are high this year and the overall attitudes have been extremely good.”
A year ago, Mullen was 9-16, its first losing record since 2015, and the Mustangs were 1-1 in regionals, downing Discovery Canyon and losing to Wheat Ridge), a step away from the Class 4A tournament.
However, Colglazier’s group for 2019 lost only one senior, he has added veteran coaches Dave Atencio and Tony Lopez, and the Mustangs are a year older and more-experienced.
“I think a lot of our underclassmen have grown up,” Colglazier said.
There is a mix. Seniors include Marissa Sanchez, pitcher; Bella Hawkins, shortstop; and Emma DiGiacomo, second base; juniors Avery Panozzo, catcher; Maggie Bertsch, third base; Maddie Bertsch, left field; and Lucia Hurtado, right field; and sophomores Bella Aragon, center field and Elizabeth Brady, first base.
“Some are not accustomed to playing these positions, but they’ve accepted their role and have worked hard,” the coach said. “And we have quite a few freshmen this year.”
Colglazier said the Mustangs also should be improved running the bases.
As for the new assistants, both of whom have long, successful histories in the game, Atencio was with Dakota Ridge and Valor Christian, and Lopez headed Mullen. Along with second-year assistant Kaylie Titus, the Mustangs staff – Colglazier was a world-class player -- is as about as experienced , accomplished and fresh as there is in the local game.
Concerning the schedule, if there’s a top team, the Mustangs probably will face them. In nonleague, there will be matchups against Jefferson County’s Chatfield, Wheat Ridge and Columbine. Defending 4A champion Holy Family is on the docket, as is always powerful Erie. There also will be games against Loveland and parochial-rival Regis Jesuit.
And in addition to returning to Bixby, Okla., for a tournament, the 5A-based Centennial League contains the likes of Cherokee Trail, last season’s 5A runner-up, Eaglecrest and Cherry Creek. All are ranked highly.
“Every game we play this year is going to be a challenge,” Colglazier said. “We’ll have to earn everything we get.”
First up for Mullen will be Thursday, Aug. 22, at home at Chatfield, 4 p.m. The home opener will be against Holy Family on Monday, Aug. 26, 4 p.m.
Opening league game will be Sept. 19 at Cherry Creek.
The regular season will run through Oct. 12. Regionals are scheduled for Oct. 19 and the state tournament will be Oct. 25-26.