It was an ordinary catch of an ordinary fly ball late in Fort Lupton’s 12-1, 4 ½-inning softball win over Arvada Sept. 15. But it was enough to make Fort Lupton right fielder Hanah Leichleitner smile from ear to ear.
“It’s my first time catching a ball in the outfield,” she said. “I’m very proud. I’ve never felt so accomplished.”
Leichleitner isn’t new to softball. But she took some time off, in part to recover from a knee injury.
“I started playing in the summer league (about five months ago),” she said. “I decided to join the high-school season. I knew this would be a sport I could put my time into, my best effort. And I’ve seen how far I’ve come.”
When she played before, she didn’t particularly like it.
“I quit for several years. Then I decided to come back, give it another chance,” she said. “I loved my coaches. I don’t think they knew much about softball. I played off instincts and guts. I love my coaches now. I’ve learned so much from them. It’s been pretty nice this season. I feel so honored to play on this team.”
“She’s come a long, long way. We’re very proud of her,” FLHS coach Albert Vasquez said. “She’s not afraid. She’s a student of the game. She’s a pleasure to coach. That’s the success. She wants to get in. You’re playing for a league title, you don’t know what you’re going to get. You see that the hard work pays off.”
FLHS spotted Arvada a first-inning run, thanks to a Sydnee Fark base hit, before scoring 12 unanswered runs over the next three innings. Areliana Bravo had three RBIs, including a run-scoring double. Rozzie Mendoza hit a solo home run as part of her three-hit afternoon. Genevieve Hunt added an RBI double.
Winning pitcher Sammy Gonzales allowed four hits and struck out six in a complete-game effort.
“We worked as a team. We may not have started off so amazing with our batting. But we pushed hard,” Leichleitner said. “It was a tough start. We got through because we knew we could do it.”
Vasquez said the recent point of emphasis has been the approach to two-strike hitting.
“What’s been our Achilles’ in our 14 games (through Sept. 15) and in the tournament this weekend (Sept. 9 and 10) was we have runners in scoring position. We didn’t have a good two-strike approach. I told them today, ‘There’s a not-confident hitter, and there’s a confident hitter. You guys are confident hitters. Go out there and hit with confidence.’ That’s what I saw today.”
Fort Lupton visits Jefferson at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22.
“I’m so glad I get to play with my seniors,” Leichleitner said. “It’s going to be a great season.”
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