Daily Camera (Boulder)

Lyons’ strong sea­son con­cludes

Lions fall to Brush; fin­ish year 14-4

- By Brent W. New Sports · College Sports · Lions

LYONS — Not long ago, Lyons had to scan the school hall­ways in search of any­body will­ing to join its soft­ball team.

Search no more.

Un­der a hot sun Thurs­day, the Class 3A fifth-seeded Lions’ first state quar­ter­fi­nals trip in 18 years ended in a 9-1 loss to No. 13 Brush.

Play­ers and coaches sat in a cir­cle in left field fol­low­ing the loss.

Per­spec­tive was key. “Lyons has strug­gled,” said first-year coach Julie Vasquez, who was the short­stop the last time Lions had gone this far in 2002. “Three years ago, we were lit­er­ally pluck­ing kids out of the hall­way to play soft­ball who’d never played soft­ball be­fore, just so we had a pro­gram. Three years ago. Four years ago, they didn’t win a game in league.”

The Lions had come into the day red-hot, av­er­ag­ing 15K runs per game dur­ing a six-game win­ning streak. But the bats missed early op­por­tu­ni­ties with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion. The Beet­dig­gers then ral­lied for eight unan­swered runs in the later go­ings.

Four straight two-out hits ended the day for Lyons starter Shantel Koester in the fifth, lead­ing to three runs. A triple and mis­cues pro­pelled the Cin­derella seed to a four-run sixth.

Koester was strong through 4M in­nings but earned the loss, al­low­ing seven hits and four runs. The stand­out righty had al­lowed four earned runs in a loss to Stras­burg at the start of the year be­fore com­pil­ing a spot­less 7-0 record com­ing into Thurs­day.

In an open­ing-round 6-0 win over Weld Cen­tral, she’d al­lowed just two hits in a com­plete-game per­for­mance.

“She’s a key player for us,” Vasquez said. “She pitched her heart out.”

Fol­low­ing a home run from Brush’s Grace Ge­or­giou, Lyons tied things in the bot­tom of the first on a Raeana Ortiz sac fly.

Beet­dig­gers starter Brae­lynn Rule calmed af­ter that, al­low­ing just two hits fol­low­ing the first and one un­earned run over seven in­nings.

“(Brush) hit us, they hit the ball,” Vasquez said.

“They showed up and scored the runs. Our bats didn’t come out to­day like they’ve done for us all sea­son.”

Lyons fin­ished 14-4, its sec­ond straight win­ning sea­son fol­low­ing eight con­sec­u­tive years of los­ing records.

Look­ing back, what a strange fall sea­son it had been, washed in a pan­demic and of­ten un­cer­tainty. And how re­mark­able the Lions had per­se­vered through it.

Se­nior catcher Han­nah Sch­weiger tried to frame it — in words.

“This has been our best sea­son,” Sch­weiger said. “I came in as a fresh­man and we won like (six) games and they weren’t con­fer­ence games. We weren’t good. To have this sea­son and to say we went to state and we went far, it’s amaz­ing for us to be able to do that.”

 ?? Cliff Grass­mick / Staff Pho­tog­ra­pher ?? Lyons’ Gyli Hay smacks a fly ball to the out­field dur­ing the team’s Class 3A home quar­ter­fi­nal game against Brush on Thurs­day af­ter­noon. The Lions lost, 9-1, and fin­ished the sea­son 14-4.
Cliff Grass­mick / Staff Pho­tog­ra­pher Lyons’ Gyli Hay smacks a fly ball to the out­field dur­ing the team’s Class 3A home quar­ter­fi­nal game against Brush on Thurs­day af­ter­noon. The Lions lost, 9-1, and fin­ished the sea­son 14-4.

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