It was a big day for the Burlington Cougars’ softball program as they recognized 9 seniors after upsetting Lamar in a Tri-Peaks softball classic. The win gave Burlington a 2-2 overall record, while Lamar dropped to 3-2 after also losing to Rocky Ford on Tuesday and La Junta on Thursday.
The upstart Wiley Panthers continue to improve in 3A softball in this their first ever season. When CHSAA postponed Volleyball, the only other sport that small school female athletes play in the fall, new Superintendent Jeff Bolinger thought it was perhaps time to start the team as there were girls not only in Wiley, but also other surrounding schools like Eads and McClave who knew how to play the game.
It’s been a well-known fact for many years that the girls in southeastern Colorado can play a mean game of softball. The summer programs in the small towns on the plains and into Lamar have enjoyed some great coaching, good facilities, and competitive and successful programs. They’ve been in the Babe Ruth Association for many years, especially in the younger age groups, but recently many local girls have begun to travel with other local players to big tournaments in Kansas, Oklahoma and on the front range.
Sometimes you just have to look at the silver lining---even in 2020. Because CHSAA completely blew up the small school sports schedules, Jeff Bolinger, new superintendent at Wiley decided to use CHSAA’s short-sited move to make lemonade out of lemons. He started a high school softball team in Wiley, in a school that had never had one before. Why not? The area female athletes from the small schools didn’t have a sport to play, but as little girls many had played summer softball. Therefore, Bollinger hedged a bet that they might just come out for the team. And he was right as Wiley’s new softball team, playing in the 3A division, has players from three different schools in the area including Wiley, Eads and McClave.
It’s a strange turn of events for girls’ sports in small school Colorado as last week CHSAA came up with zero options for girls in these schools to participate in a sport in Season A, formerly known as the Fall Season. However, there are a number of girls in the area that adjusted to the decision as it now stands, and opened themselves up to the possibility of playing a different sport than volleyball—the one they usually would play during this time of year. They are bringing back the summer days of softball and joining the bigger schools who happen to have a team.