VIDEO: Top 5 Plays of the Week
The old saying is that a season is always a marathon, not a sprint. That's not the case this season for Colorado high school softball, as one month provides the bulk of action, at least when it comes to critical softball games.
With the number of contests reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic, each game means more than they normally would have at this time of the season. Success is paramount through the month of September.
All three classifications have their share of games that will create ripple effects on a statewide scale. While there are dozens of games that will have an impact on league championships, RPI and plain-old momentum, we're looking at 10 that are crucial to how the regular season will play out and how state tournament brackets will shake out.Class 5ALegend (Parker) at Rock Canyon (Highlands Ranch), Sept. 9, 3:30 p.m.
With a couple big wins already, Rock Canyon is out to prove it is the top team in the state. Senior duo Katie Dack
and Anna Reimers
have combined for eight of the Jags' 11 home runs this season. Reimers has also been dominant in the circle with a 4-0 record and a 1.96 ERA. Although Legend is off to a slow start, it is looking to gain steam and make a return to the 5A state tournament. Sophomores Emma Harrington
and Kaylyn English
are both hitting over .450, and English has scored four of the 10 runs the Titans have scored this year.Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village) at Smoky Hill (Aurora), Sept. 9, 4:30 p.m.
The Centennial League powerhouses will be battling for position all season long, and their clash Sept. 9 will be a big game for both teams. It was never a secret that the Buffaloes were out to claim a league title and make a run at a state championship. Juniors Amrajie Bass
and Izzy Giroux
are both hitting .667 and have each blasted a home run. Four players in Smoky Hill's lineup have at least four RBI on the season. Cherry Creek's team average is hovering around the .250 mark, but the Bruins are finding ways to score runs and get wins. They started the season with three big wins before dropping two straight. They hope to get rolling again in time for their showdown with the Buffaloes.Fossil Ridge (Fort Collins) at Legacy (Broomfield), Sept. 10, 4:15 p.m.Jordan McKinnon
is quickly emerging as one of the biggest power hitters in the state. She's hitting .471 with four home runs and seven RBI. The Fossil Ridge junior is a big reason the Sabercats are out to a fast start and regarded as a favorite to contend for the 5A state title. She's getting help from sophomore Katelyn Hays
, who has three home runs and 11 RBI. Legacy suffered a big loss to Rock Canyon at the end of August, but the Lightning have been dominant otherwise, winning their other three games by a combined score of 32-9.Columbine (Littleton) at Chatfield (Littleton), Sept. 21, 4:30 p.m.
The Jeffco League features the equivalent of a heavyweight showdown on a weekly basis. As September reaches its final stretch, the clash between Columbine and Chatfield will have big implications in the league standings. Chatfield seniors Madison Shepard
and Courtney Bidwell
combined for 22 RBI in their first seven games. Both are hitting .520 or better and give the Chargers a great chance at winning each time they take the field. Columbine opened the season 2-3 after claiming the 5A title. Izzy Rodriguez
has hit two solo home runs, and sophomore Araya Ogden
is easing into her role as the staff ace.Class 4APueblo South vs. Pueblo Centennial, Sept. 8, 4 p.m.
Despite its season-opening loss to Air Academy, Pueblo South is the favorite to win the South Central League, but the Bulldogs believe the league crown is theirs for the taking. Emily Abraham
followed up the loss to the Kadets by tossing a no-hitter against La Junta. She'll have to keep putting together strong performances if the team batting average doesn't improve from .278. Pueblo Centennial looked strong in its first two wins of the season, particularly junior Kaylee Portillos
, who is hitting .571 with two home runs. Lilliana Espinoza
has surrendered just one earned run all season.
Frederick vs. Air Academy (US Air Force Academy), Sept. 11, 1 p.m.
The Berthoud Tournament features a lot of solid teams, but the matchup between Frederick and Air Academy might be the best of the entire slate of games. Frederick averages a little more than 10 runs per game despite only seven extra-base hits all season. Freshman Makenzie Sais
is hitting .562 (all singles) and driven in four runs. The Kadets started their season
with a big 2-0 win over Pueblo South. Junior Abby Litchfield
is off to a hot start, hitting .571 with a pair of home runs. Freshmen Mikayla Hancock
and Ava Smith
are pulling weight as well. Hancock leads the team with seven RBI, and Smith has scored six runs.Mead (Longmont) vs. Erie, Sept. 24, 4 p.m.
Mead looks every bit the part of a future state champion and has a near-end of the season showdown with the defending state champion. The Mavericks boast a lot of power in their lineup as Veronica Elsis
, Allie Szablowski
and Katelyn Wiescamp
have all blasted two home runs each. Joslynn Veltien
has been equally impressive in the circle, striking out 37 hitters and surrendering just 15 earned runs. The Tigers are off to a bit of a slow start having already dropped games to Holy Family and Mead. They're led by Kambry Fraser
, who is batting .500 with a pair of home runs. She shares the team lead in RBI with Emma Osborne
at six apiece.Class 3AUniversity (Greeley) at Eaton, Sept. 8, 4 p.m.
A battle of two of 3A's top teams could serve as a potential state championship preview. Both the Bulldogs and the Reds
came into the season with high expectations, and through their first few games have done their best to live up to them. In just four games, University has scored a staggering 61 runs and only given up eight. Three Bulldogs are hitting over .700 as seniors Andi Padilla
(.833) and Delaney Wieneke
(.833), along with sophomore Kaden Wyatt
(.714), have proven to be tough outs. Eaton has some standout hitters of its own as freshman Sadie Ross
and junior Emma Pinkstaff
lead the team with matching .643 averages. Ross leads all Eaton players with 10 runs scored.Rocky Ford at Limon, Sept. 8, 4 p.m.
Another matchup of top 3A teams, the Meloneers and Badgers meet for the first of two matchups in September. Rocky Ford has an evenly distributed lineup as six players are batting over .500. Lexi Fernandez
leads the team in RBI with 12, while Jayden Osborne
leads with eight runs scored. But the real strength of the Meloneers comes in the pitching circle. Abby McElroy
has thrown 17 innings and has yet to surrender an earned run. Limon's lone loss of the year came in an extra inning game against La Junta. Last weekend the Badgers made their way to the Colorado Springs area and grabbed wins over Widefield, Pine Creek and Fountain-Fort Carson. Sophomore Ryann Eurich
leads the team with two home runs and 10 RBI.Brush at Strasburg, Sept. 29, 4 p.m.
As the regular season winds down, each team will be looking to seize every bit of momentum they can heading into the postseason. That will certainly be the case as Brush travels to Strasburg for this one. Strasburg isn't breaking any offensive records, but Rio Smith
has a .600 average and has driven in four runs. Jodie Archuleta
leads the team with five RBI, and Graecyn Graf
has blasted the team's only home run. Brush suffered early losses to University and Eaton but has been dominant in their other performances. Grace Georgieu
has four extra-base hits, including two home runs and will be a big key to the Beetdiggers' success at this point of the season.