Jackson, Kotz win PI’s Female Athletes of the Month
Starting a new monthly piece here at the Post Independent, we decided to expand our coverage of the student-athletes in the valley by going from just one Athlete of the Year award to Athlete of the Month awards. That being said, November was a very slow month for local sports, so we’ve decided to honor the winners from September and October for the November Athlete of the Month, finishing up with the female athletes today after running the males yesterday.
Rifle sophomore softball player Kaitlyn Jackson, who actually attends Coal Ridge High School, was awarded the very first Athlete of the Month award back in October, winning the PI’s September Female Athlete of the Month award due to her accomplishments on the mound for the Lady Bears.
In the 2016 season Jackson took a major step forward, starting 19 games for the second straight year (16 complete games) and finishing with a 14-5 record, 1.89 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 107.1 innings pitched. Jackson really stepped up at the plate this season for Rifle, posting a .418 batting average with 10 doubles, one triple and three home runs to go along with 27 RBIs for the Bears, who finished 14-5 during the regular season.
All of her accomplishments on the mound and at the plate for Rifle led to her winning the 4A Western Slope League Player of the Year on top of her Athlete of the Month honor from the Post Independent.
Coal Ridge senior setter Dana Kotz earned the October Female Athlete of the Month as a captain of the Coal Ridge Titans volleyball team.
Kotz helped lead the Titans to a second-place finish in the 3A Western Slope League while also helping the Titans punch a ticket to the state tournament at the Denver Coliseum for the fourth straight season. During the 2016 season, Kotz led the way offensively for the Titans with a team-high 630 assists, 100 kills and 36 aces while chipping in with 231 digs defensively, providing Gerber and the Titans with a dominant all-around player who played a key role in the success of Coal Ridge over the last two years on varsity.
“People don’t understand how aggressive and consistent Dana is,” Coal Ridge Head Coach Aimee Gerber said to the PI in November. “She’s able to do anything I need her to do on the court, and that’s key for us. If I tell her to hit a spot on the floor, she’ll find a way to hit that spot. She very rarely makes mistakes for us. She’s a fun girl on this team; she’s still quiet, but she gets along with everyone. She works extremely hard, and I think the rest of the team sees that and wants to work hard just like her.”
Off the playing surface Kotz is looking to continue her volleyball career at the next level as she looks at Regis University and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, but should she choose not to play volleyball in college, she’ll most likely head to Colorado University to pursue a career in nursing.
Jackson still has two years to go in high school, but her future likely has plenty of room for softball at the next level.
Based off of the accomplishments on and off the field for Jackson and Kotz, the PI couldn’t think of two more deserving Female Athletes of the Month.
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With the steel skeleton of the new care center well under way on Graham Mesa, the groundwork for Grand River Health’s hospital expansion is currently taking shape in south Rifle