No high school in Fort Collins has been more dominant in athletics this fall than Fossil Ridge, and the SaberCats’ softball team is no exception.
The SaberCats own a 17-2 record Front Range League title heading into today’s regional play.
Fossil Ridge, along with Poudre and Fort Collins, all start their respective regional tournaments at 10 a.m., but the SaberCats get the added advantage of playing at home. Well, at least in town, anyway.
Due to the restriction that a regional host must have two fields available so four teams can play simultaneously, the Region VII tournament will be played at Triple Crown Sports Center, 3930 Automation Way, just 2½ miles northwest of Fossil Ridge.
Even though the tournament won’t be played on campus, coach Dave Philop still is excited, as it’s the first time Fossil Ridge has hosted since moving up to Class 5A.
“We’re excited because we’re playing our best softball of the year. I think we’ve won nine in a row and we’re peaking going in to the regionals,” Philop said. “That was something I was really hoping for a couple of weeks ago and I feel like we definitely are.
“We had some tough games at the end with Loveland and Poudre, but played really well in both.”
Philop said the plan is to start ace pitcher Murphy McRoberts, a sophomore, in the opening round of the double-elimination tournament against Chaparral (8-11). She’s one of just two pitchers the SaberCats have thrown this fall, boasting a record of 15-2 with a 3.17 ERA.
Fossil Ridge isn’t the only school in town that seems to be peaking at the right time. The same is the case for Poudre (8-10-1, 7-4 FRL), which had won four in a row before dropping the final two of the season against the SaberCats and Thompson Valley — one of the better Class 4A teams.
Coach Christy Malara understands that the Impalas are the underdog at the Region II tournament, matched against host Mountain Vista (13-6) in the first round, but is confident Poudre will leave everything on the field this morning to try and finish the bracket as one of the last two schools remaining and qualify for state.
“I think we’re doing well. We’ve had some good practices and we’re going in knowing that we don’t have anything to lose and lay it all on the line. We’re working hard and ready to go after it,” Malara said. “We’re finding out what each of us can do. The girls are coming together to get the job done.”
Malara added that consistency would be the most difficult part of the tournament since Poudre is such a young team and many players lack regional experience.
Junior Sarah Johnson is expected to start on the mound. She’s struck out 101 batters and only allowed three home runs.
Fort Collins (12-7, 6-5), which finished the Front Range League in fifth place, just behind Poudre, also has a tough first-round matchup. The Lambkins will face Eaglecrest (16-3) at the Region III tournament in Arvada.