WOODLAND PARK - Danni Lopez’s main role with the Woodland Park High School softball team is to get on base. She is among the best players in the state at accomplishing that feat.
“I’m mainly a slapper because of my speed,” Lopez said. “And I’d rather hit my way on than walk.”
Lopez has hit her way on to the tune of .667 (34 for 51) batting average, which ranks second in the state among all Class 4A hitters, and third among all classifications. She is behind Peyton Tellez (.727) of 5A Greeley West and Estraya Carrasco (.679) of 4A Alameda.
“See the ball, hit the ball,” Lopez said with confidence. “I’m going to get on base. I’m constantly thinking that when I’m up at bat. I focus on getting on base and getting our team some runs.”
Lopez has scored 22 runs and driven in 11 while usually batting second in the potent Panthers’ lineup. Woodland Park (13-4) has scored 21 or more runs in six of its last seven games. The Panthers are averaging 15 runs per game on the season.
“It’s been an amazing year,” said Lopez, who maintains a 3.89 GPA. “We work hard on and off the softball field, and we’ve pulled together.”
A four-year starter, Lopez is also among the fastest players on the team. She has been clocked at 12 seconds flat from home to home.
“She’s blazing fast from home to first,” said Woodland Park coach Dale Huntington. “She can haul, and she usually causes a lot of havoc when she’s on base.
“Even if she doesn’t get on base, she can usually get the ball down and move the runners over.”
A right-handed thrower, Lopez began the year as the team’s right fielder. But she has mostly been playing third base as the season has progressed. She has even caught a couple of games.
“I definitely like the outfield because of my speed,” Lopez said. “I play outfield for my club team (TC Shockers in Pueblo). I especially like throwing someone out at home.
“You get a lot of adrenaline playing third base. You never know when the ball will come to you. You might even get to dive.”
Lopez is a tri-captain along with fellow seniors Michaela Huntington (.534 batting average) and Elsa Huber (.460). The Panthers have a nice mixture of upper and lower classmen who are all contributing to the team’s success.
“We believe in each other,” said Lopez, who recently visited Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. “We have so much talent. So many young players who are so strong.”
The Panthers finished second in the Metro League behind Widefield. Their lone league loss was to Widefield (14-12 on Sept. 4). Woodland Park responded by winning 11 of its last 12 games.
The Panthers conclude the Metro League Tournament on Thursday. Regional action begins next week.
“State is definitely our goal,” Lopez said. “We can get there as long we believe in ourselves and keep our attitude up.”