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Durango softball gets consistency and energy from coach Chelsea Rodriguez

DHS softball aiming for improvement with energy

Some consistency, finally.

After experiencing three coaching changes in three years, the Durango High School softball team finally sees a familiar face every day at practice.

That face is Chelsea Rodriguez, a former Fort Lewis College softball All-American in her second season at the helm.

“She connects with us so well,” said DHS senior Danica Dudley, daughter of Ed and Karla Dudley. “She gets us fired up about the game as much as she was about the game.”

The energy is infectious.

Though the Demons didn’t start the 2015 season great on paper in two 10-run losses last weekend, she’s seeing the team start to come together.

“They’re going to learn a lot this season. Sometimes, unfortunately, you learn from mistakes and failing,” Rodriguez said. “Softball is a game of failure. The best hitters still fail seven out of ten times. You’re going to fail to get better.”

DHS (0-2) doesn’t mind that so much.

The Demons care more about the team’s family atmosphere and sense of togetherness.

“We’re a family. We all get along, we joke with each other. Even if we’re not in a good mood we’re not mean to each other,” said DHS senior Kelly Perry, daughter of Heidi and Joel Perry. “I’m just glad I get to play with my friends.”

The support has already helped DHS immensely.

The Demons graduated two of their three pitchers from last year’s 8-11 team, leaving only Cami Bisbee with experience in the circle.

One pitcher can’t throw every inning, so Rodriguez went looking for pitchers.

She found Dudley.

“I haven’t pitched since I was in sixth grade. We were just messing around at practice and (Rodriguez) said ‘let’s throw you in there.’ My team needed me,” Dudley said. “It was difficult. I really wasn’t expecting to pitch two days previously then to be in the game pitching. My teammates were so great. Without the support of my teammates telling me I did great after every inning, I couldn’t have done it.”

DHS used three pitchers last weekend, two of which had never done it at the high school varsity level before.

“The courage and strength it shows within them in learning to pitch and go through a varsity game was very positive,” Rodriguez said.

It’s going to be a learning season for DHS. The Demons have four seniors on their roster.

Because of her team’s youth, Rodriguez is focused on individual development.

DHS can check its progress with a doubleheader Saturday at Aspen Field on the campus of Fort Lewis College against Dolores Huerta Prep, weather permitting.

“We’re looking to improve upon last weekend and learn from our first weekend. The first weekend’s always tough. You figure out what your team psyche is going to be,” Rodriguez said. “Whenever you’re playing softball, you’re really playing against yourself. You’ve got to figure out every day how to make yourself better. Opponents are interchangeable.”

Playing home games at FLC brings a mixed reaction from the Demons.

“I would definitely rather play at the (high) school. We practice here every day - we actually have to move our practices before home games. It’s not an environment we’re used to,” Perry said. “We have our practice field that we had to build, and we have to rent our field. It’d be nice to have our own field with our name on it.”


If you go

Who: Dolores Huerta Prep at Durango

What: High school softball

When: 10 a.m. and noon, doubleheader

Where: Aspen Field, Fort Lewis College

Twitter: @kylegrbwsk

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