Moffat County athletes build connections, thrive on playoff-bound Meeker softball team
Putting nearly 90 miles on their odometers multiple times per week, a number of Moffat County athletes have proven their devotion to their favorite sport this fall.
The Meeker softball team is on its way to the playoffs this weekend with several Moffat County players in tow. MoCo seniors Reagan Hafey and Dylan Herndon and freshman Teryn Carter have been integral players on the Cowboys’ varsity roster throughout this season, which has seen numerous athletes from around the region join their effort.
Besides the group of girls from Craig — which also includes JV players Brooklyn Garcia and Vanessa Herrera — five girls from Rangely have also been added to the lineup.
“I am blown away by the dedication it takes any student-athlete to succeed on and off the field day in and day out, but then adding an extra hour drive each way to practice and games is truly extraordinary,” Meeker coach Kendal Bergman said.
For Herndon, she’s grown on the squad throughout all four years of high school, though it took some time before she really started making friends with teammates who went to a different school.
“The first couple years I was very shy and didn’t really build those connections,” Herndon said. “My junior and senior year I started building stronger relations, and honestly even though I didn’t go to school with them, I had some great connections.”
Part of the crew since junior year, Hafey agreed that the past two seasons have been a bonding experience.
“We are a great family, and even though we kind of get on each other sometimes, at the end of the day, we’re all there to pick each other up,” she said.
Coming into this season as the defending Class 3A Western Slope League champions, Meeker had high expectations but also significant changes.
“We lost a lot of great girls last year — a strong pitcher and our corners,” Herndon said. “But we filled in those spots and came together as a team. Even though we’re a younger team, we came out together every day and got a lot stronger.”
While Herndon is primarily an outfielder, Hafey’s time in the infield shifted to a pitching role this year. She and Meeker senior Brea Garcia have shared the mound, and though Hafey wasn’t expecting to be in that position, she has taken it in stride with a 5.20 ERA and 36 strikeouts across eight games.
Her stronger suit has been hitting, boasting the team’s best batting average at .554 with 31 hits and 20 RBIs, including a home run during an 8-7 win over Eagle Valley, the team’s first victory of the season.
The early part of the schedule was the toughest with a 3-6 record in non-league play.
“Honestly, it didn’t discourage anyone and it’s important to play those tough teams early and often to get prepped for later in the year,” Bergman said.
The Cowboys ultimately finished third in the Western Slope League with a 7-5 tally.
At 10-11 overall, the team qualified for the 3A state tournament seeded 21st in a field of 32. This Saturday, Oct. 15, will see them take on Denver’s Thomas Jefferson for the opening regional round, which will be hosted by No. 5 seed Lamar.
With a seven-hour drive in store to get to their next match, it’s nothing new to the Craig players who have been traveling regularly. Hafey said the key will be maintaining the same spirit they’ve had in recent weeks.
“We’re really working on keeping the energy up. We see a big difference when we bring that energy to the dugout and we’re all super-hyped up,” she said.
Though Carter has been primarily on the JV team, she’s also stepped up for varsity and will be suiting up this weekend.
“It’s very challenging but it’s a very good opportunity for me as a freshman to be able to play along with the older girls that are experienced,” she said. “I love the game of softball, so I will definitely keep doing it the next few years.”
Win or lose in the playoffs, Bergman said she’s been overjoyed with the way all the athletes across Northwest Colorado have come together.
“These players and parents are amazing and so dedicated, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have them,” she said. “I truly love that we have the capability to take on Craig and Rangely girls and provide the opportunity to play a great sport with great girls for the surrounding communities.”
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