Mid-October always means that state tournaments are in full swing. That will be the case at Aurora Sports Park this weekend as the state softball tournaments for all three classes begin Friday.
After a modified format last year that just had semifinals and championship games at the venue, the tournament will have a much more normal feel this time around.
Through all three classification there are several teams that should contend for state championships. Here's a look at a few of those teams that are worth an extra look when games begin Friday.
Class 5A // Bracket
All season Horizon (Thornton)
has looked like the top overall team in 5A. It's fitting that the Hawks enter the state tournament as the No. 1 seed and are hunting for a state championship. The lone blemish on the record is a 3-2 loss
on Aug. 31. The Hawks have a good sophomore core in Madison Shama
and Madison Vollmar
, who are both batting better than .430 and have combined to hit eight home runs. Vollmar has also been the team's standout pitcher with a 10-1 record and 1.82 ERA. And it's another sophomore who accounts for 10 of the other 12 wins: Hadley Hudson
is 10-0 and her ERA sits at 2.50.Legacy (Broomfield)
stumbled a bit early in the season but really got rolling when the calendar turned to September. Since then the only loss for the Lightning is to 5A No. 1 seed Horizon. They have picked up wins over Fossil Ridge (Fort Collins)
and Cherokee Trail (Aurora)
in that time. Kendall Aragon
has emerged as one of the top hitters in the state with a .667 batting average that comes with 40 runs scored and three home runs. Junior Samantha Bocis
has hit a team-high six home runs and also hits for average as she sits at .593 on the season. Janessa Esquibel
will be the key pitcher for the Lightning as she has gone 14-2 this year and struck out 119 hitters.
Fossil Ridge played its way to an emotional state title win last season and wants to claim another crown this weekend. The Sabercats have been edged 1-0 by No. 1 seed Horizon so championship ambitions aren't out of the realm of reality. They will have to rely heavily on their seniors as Elizabeth Browning
and Nikki McGaffin
are both hitting north of .490 and have scored a combined 55 runs. McGaffin will once again try and keep a steady hand in the pitching circle as she enters the state tournament with a 19-2 record and a 0.92 ERA. She has also struck out 227 batters this season.Other teams to watch: Columbine (Littleton)
has put together an impressive resumé this year and is the No. 2 seed heading into state. The Rebels have outscored their opponents 215-97 this year. Legend (Parker)
has some big wins over teams that will be playing in the state tournament this weekend. The Titans have come away victorious over Legacy, Columbine and Lakewood
.Class 4A // Bracket Holy Family (Broomfield)
is sitting right where every defending state champion wants to be heading into the tournament. The Tigers enter as the No, 1 seed and have ambitions of winning a third title in four seasons. They got there thanks to a
combination of youth and experience as freshman Isabella Arroyo
and senior Ava Kuszak
are each hitting over .500. Kuszak leads the team with 25 RBIs while Arroyo has been the ace of the pitching staff with a 13-0 record and a 1.83 ERA. Her best performance came in a 3-0 win over Mead (Longmont)
where she threw seven innings and struck out eight batters. The big kicker was that she allowed zero hits and just one batter reached base on a walk. That no-hitter avenged an earlier loss to Mead and should both teams win in the first round Friday, they would see each other for the third time this season.
In the southern half of the state, Pueblo South
has put together a solid season and wants to spoil Holy Family's party in the state tournament. Sophomore Albanie Cordova
has shown tremendous power with a .563 average and six home runs. She has gotten a lot of help through the lineup as Jada Montoya
and Maddie Doverspike
are each batting over .400 with each driving in 23 runs. Emily Abraham
will do her best to keep hitters off the bases as she has allowed opponents to hit just .185 against her. The Colts have two wins over teams - Pueblo Central
and D'Evelyn (Denver)
- that advanced to the state tournament.Riverdale Ridge (Thornton)
suffered a loss to Mead in last year's state tournament, but the Ravens have ambitions of a deeper tournament run this season. Senior Sydnee Fordham
has been the spark in the batting lineup as she is hitting .524 with an OPS of 1.198. She has struck out just three times, so the ball will generally be put in play when she's at-bat. Two freshmen are also essential to the Ravens offense. Neila Lucero
is hitting .486, while Madyson Ortiz
is hitting .429. Junior Aubree Davis
has been good in the pitching circle with a 13-3 record and a 2.31 ERA.Other teams to watch:
Erie heads into the tournament as the No. 3 seed, but has shown how competitive it is against the top teams. They suffered a narrow 4-3 loss to Holy Family on Oct. 5. Elizabeth
finished with an undefeated league record and has been competitive against teams like Mead and Pueblo South.Class 3A // BracketEaton
(23-3) is looking to make another run to a 3A softball title and enters the bracket as the No. 3 overall seed. Their second state title in a row will be dependent on the performance of their two big pitchers in Julia Meagher
and Sadie Ross
The two sophomores are a combined 18-2 and struck out 137 batters. Senior Emma Pinkstaff
leads the offense as she hit .539 and scored a team-high 51 runs. Between the hitting and the pitching, the Reds have the experience from last year's state championship team to make another run at gold.Lutheran (Parker)
enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed, and has already registered an 11-1 win over Eaton this season. The Lions might be the heavy favorite to win state, having outscored their opponents 336-20 this year. Freshman Meredith Barnhart
has been a big reason for that as she is hitting .615 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs. A player of the year candidate, Barnhart is hoping to give the Lions the same freshman boost that Ross gave Eaton in the state tournament a year ago. Sophomore Hailey Maestretti
has limited opposing hitters to a .098 batting average and she has registered 232 strikeouts on the season.
Back to the Patriot League, Sterling
could make a surprise run given some of its big wins this season. They have beaten Eaton, Strasburg
, which are all state tournament teams. Aubrey Wright
has been outstanding on the offensive end, hitting .557 with 25 RBIs and 29 runs scored. Junior Reagan Fehringer
has given up just 29 earned runs this season in the 110 innings pitched. She also helps on the offensive front with a .461 batting average with 26 RBIs. Her presence in the pitching circle and the batting lineup gives the Tigers a shot to compete and win each game they play.Other teams to watch: Fort Lupton
comes in as one of the hottest teams in the state, having won 11 of its past 12 games. Also, the only 3A team to beat La Junta
this season was Eaton, but that was back in August. The Tigers have played great softball heading into state.