Turnaround? DHS softball thinks so

Durango plays next six at home

Sidney Corbin and Durango will try and stretch their playoff hopes all the way to season’s end, with six of their last seven games at home and against 4A regional opponents. Enlarge photo

Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file photo

Sidney Corbin and Durango will try and stretch their playoff hopes all the way to season’s end, with six of their last seven games at home and against 4A regional opponents.

The 3-9 record isn’t ideal. But it’s far from a death sentence to the playoff hopes of the Durango High School softball team.

And The Demons have more going for them at present than the record might indicate.

Three teams combined from the Southwestern and Western Slope leagues qualify for the Class 4A postseason, and while the Demons likely won’t catch Montrose for the top 4A spot in the SWL, there’s still a chance they could better the two teams that don’t take top billing in the Western Slope League for the wildcard spot.

The schedule sets up nicely for DHS as well. Starting with today’s non-league, non-region contest against Basalt, the Demons’ next six games will take place at the friendly confines of Aspen Field in Durango.

That includes Friday’s game against Montezuma-Cortez and next weekend’s doubleheaders with Palisade and Delta, all region foes. DHS wraps with a game in Cortez in two weeks.

Durango also is 3-1 since starting out 0-8 with games against the likes of 5A powers Grand Junction and Fruita Monument and an always-game Montrose squad.

All of these factors add up to cautious optimism that Durango could get on a roll and navigate back to the playoffs.

“I think we’re really motivated to get to playoffs now and hopefully do as well as we did last year,” said Cindy Kobrin, daughter of Mark and Rosa Kobrin.

Kobrin, along with the resurgent pitching of Lexy Vidunas, has been one of the biggest reasons for Durango’s recent surge. She leads the Demons in batting average (.400), home runs (2), RBIs (13), on-base percentage (.526) and slugging percentage (.700).

“I started the season pretty low, but I eventually just told myself to just have fun ... and the more I relaxed, the better I got up at the plate,” Kobrin said.

But offense hasn’t been the issue for DHS. The defense has been the biggest bugaboo for Durango, with the Demons having committed 43 errors to this point.

Part of the reason is that, unlike last year, DHS hasn’t been able to get continuity of position for certain players. With Chanel McCloskey out, the Demons have tried a handful of different players at second base, and Mackenzie Sill recently has played some games at third base, a position she’s more comfortable in, leaving a gap to fill at shortstop.

“Last year, we had the luxury and the fortune to not have injuries, and 90 percent of the time offensively and defensively, there were no changes. ... I think we haven’t hit that mark as far as all of them feeling comfortable,” DHS head coach John Bernazzani said.

Despite the defensive lapses, getting to play at home for the first time in almost a month could be a boon for DHS. Having the last at bat and a bit more fan support can’t hurt as DHS tries to make the most of winnable games down the stretch.

“We’re in control of our destiny,” Bernazzani said. “We can’t expect help from anybody else. Our best shot, obviously, is to win the next seven games in a row.”

rowens@durangoherald.com