Double-digit run production in five consecutive games allowed the Durango Demons a chance to show off how much they improved since the season opener only five weeks ago.
It was a standout weekend for the Durango High School softball team. The Demons secured a massive 5A/4A Southwestern League sweep of rival Montrose last Friday with wins of 11-0 and 14-0. That included a no-hitter pitching performance from Sydney Flores in one of the wins and another brilliant shutout from Teagan Kehm.
“Montrose puts forth a good team every year,” said DHS head coach John Bernazzani. “Some of our seniors remarked at the end of the Montrose sweep what a great feeling it was for them. They had never gotten past Montrose before.”
Senior day was Monday against Montezuma-Cortez. It was a game in which DHS (8-6, 3-5 SWL) could truly see how much it had improved over the course of 14 games. The Demons had lost 8-5 to the Panthers (8-4, 5-3 3A Western Slope League) on the road to open the season Aug. 20. A month later, DHS won it’s senior day game 12-5 against the same Panthers squad. It came with a strong pitching effort from Kehm.
“At the beginning of the season, we exercised a lot of patience at the plate,” Bernazzani said. “Then, we got into a mode where I think we were a little more free swinging. It boiled down to having more at-bats, being more comfortable in the box. Identifying pitchers and location really made all of the hitters in our lineup better hitters.”
Flores and Kehm each belted home runs Monday. Kehm was 4-for-4 with four runs batted in and two runs scored. Flores was 1-for-4 with four RBIs. Lily Longan had a strong senior day, as she went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run. Leadoff hitter Sylvia Reyes, another senior, was 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Alaysia Kremer came through with a 4-for-4 day with one RBI and three runs scored. Tehya Barnes also checked into the game and went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Aside from two doubles from Taiah Wilson of Cortez, it was a clean day of pitching for Kehm. She allowed only six hits and five runs – two earned – with three walks and eight big strikeouts.
“Teagan and Sydney were our 1-2 punch against Montrose on Friday,” Bernazzani said. “Either player was ready, and I went with Teagan against Cortez. She just kept the ball down, got movement on her pitches and was so effective.”
Wilson took the loss for the Panthers. She allowed 19 hits and walked two. She struck out four.
“Cortez’s pitcher is very crafty, but the Demons’ bats have just really turned around this season,” Bernazzani said. “Facing this pitcher, they remembered how she changes speeds and also remembered what her best pitches were and were able to lay off of them.”
Bernazzani embraced a special senior night in his second year coaching DHS after the players had gone through a coaching shuffle every year previous.
“Bryn Valdez suffered a torn ACL and missed all of her junior season. She came back this year very fit and ready to play and made the most if it,” Bernazzani said. “Sylvia Reyes and Lily Longan, they had played with the Durango Danger since they were 7 years old. They came through the high school and made the most of their last two years as middle infielders who worked really well together. It’s going to be hard to replace them.
“Then, of course, Maddie Ostrander, our only left-handed batter in the lineup. Over the last three games, she had three slap hits to opposite field. She had worked on it for years, and it finally came to fruition.”
DHS will return most of its team next season. Though the Cortez game was the last on Durango’s schedule, Bernazzani said the team will continue to practice until Oct. 3 in hopes of adding two more games to the schedule.
“The unfortunate thing this year, normally the postseason would have 32 teams going. I think we would have a more than easy chance to get in as the 4A winner of our league,” Bernazzani said. “But, again, in a shortened season with COVID and only 16 teams going to state, our chances don’t look good now.
“We are very excited about next year, but we are still hoping to get a chance to play two more games. We will continue to be on the field practicing and scrimmaging. If we don’t get any more games, then our girls still feel extremely lucky to have been able to get out and play with the current conditions going on. They made the best of it and came alive in the second half of the season.”