Peyton Richter knew her St. Mary's softball team was special when the Pirates lost to Lamar in the season opener.
In the three previous years, Lamar topped St. Mary's 14-0, 10-0 and 9-0.
This year, however, it was different. The Pirates fell only 3-2 to Lamar, a result that somewhat surprised the senior pitcher and made her realize this season could be meaningful.
"They have run-ruled us in the past but we were really close with them, scoring two runs," Richter said, "so that (raised) my standards because we've been doing really well."
And her prediction so far has been on point, considering the Pirates were on a 10-game winning streak and boast an 11-2 overall record after Monday's 15-0 nonconference win over Mitchell.
Richter has played a huge role this season and her efforts landed her The Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week.
This season, she has had seven games in which she struck out at least 10 batters. On Sept. 1, in a 6-0 win over Gunnison, Richter threw a career-best 16 strikeouts.
Before Monday, she was ranked third in the state with 110 behind Loveland's Laurin Krings (169) and Thomas Jefferson's Jaelyn Jackson (116).
The Pirates are coming off a season in which they made it to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. Once again, they have aspirations to go beyond the regular season.
"Me personally, I feel confident when Peyton is up pitching,” Pirates outfield Katherine Chartier said recently. “It makes me feel pretty safe. I know she can pitch well, and then it’s up to us.”
St. Mary's is one of two area teams that have recorded more than 10 wins before Monday - the other being Mesa Ridge.
And the Pirates aren't going to settle with what they've accomplished so far.
Especially because Richter is around.
She developed a curveball that only adds to her resume of pitches. And if a team gets the best of her, Richter is not too worried. She has a reliable defense to back her up.
"I feel like I'm a leader," she said. "I'm a pitcher and I have to do my job throwing strikes. If batters need to hit the ball, they hit the ball and we have fielders to make outs. I just have to do what I can to let the defense do their work."
Just the Facts
Peyton Richter, St. Mary's softball
Statistics: In two wins over Sheridan and Dolores Huerta Prep last week, she threw a combined 26 strikeouts and allowed just three hits.
Highlight so far this season: She pitched a career-best 16 strikeouts in a 6-0 win over Gunnison on Sept. 1.
Other Peak Performers
Liam O'Halloran, The Classical Academy
The junior shot a 1-over par 73 to claim the Elizabeth Invitational at Spring Valley Golf Course on Sept. 4. His other wins include claiming the Canon City Invitational last month.
Brandon Hippe, Palmer Ridge
The senior won the St. Vrain Invitational in Lyons to lead the Bears to a second-place team finish. The Bears did it despite missing two top runners.
Katie Doiron, Palmer Ridge
The senior scored two goals in the Bears' 4-0 win over Fossil Ridge on Saturday, helping Palmer Ridge erase its 2-0 loss to Cherry Creek a week earlier.
Ryan Monteleone and Marshall Pike, Discovery Canyon
The senior and junior played pivotal roles in the Thunder's 42-41 overtime win over Pueblo South on Saturday. Monteleone scored his second touchdown to tie it up at 41-41 in extra time before Pike ran the ball in to convert a two-point try.
Orlando Westbrook, Harrison
The senior quarterback completed 24 of 35 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns in a 14-6 win over Glenwood Springs on Friday to lift the Panthers to a 2-0 record.
Ariadna Martinez, Mesa Ridge
The sophomore complied 11 RBIs in wins over La Junta, Lamar, Sand Creek and Palmer Ridge last week. She went 7 for 14 during the stretch.