During the storied run of the Legacy (Broomfield)
softball team that began some 11 years ago, the Lightning rode the arms of Shelby Babcock, and then Rainey Gaffin, to five Class 5A state championships in a row.
But headed into the 2018 5A state tournament that gets underway Friday at Aurora Sports Park, Legacy has thrown a new wrinkle into its game. Instead of one pitcher who can dominate a game, now Legacy counters with a pair of hurlers to keep opposing teams off balance.
Junior Hannah Farley
(13-2, 2.26 ERA, 131 strikeouts) and senior Isabella Kelly
(8-3, 2.56 ERA, 43 strikeouts) have made for a potent 1-2 punch this fall. After losses in three of its first six games, Legacy (21-4) enters state having won 18 of its past 19. The Front Range League champions are the No. 3 overall seed and open play at 12:15 p.m. Friday against No. 14 Castle View (Castle Rock)
The first two rounds take place Friday, with the semifinals set for Saturday morning. The 5A championship game is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
"My philosophy is we're always learning. We're always working on stuff until Oct. 21," said Legacy coach Dawn Gaffin, who has led her team to six state championships overall. "We already set our goals on things we need to work on (last) Saturday after the game, so the girls know exactly what we need to get done before this weekend."
Legacy has won nine consecutive games since a non-league loss to Grand Junction Central
. That included a pair of victories in the Region 3 tournament last Saturday, a 7-3 triumph over Northglenn
and a 7-0 shutout victory against Regis Jesuit (Aurora)
. Kelly went the distance against the Norse, allowing three runs on six hits. Farley tossed a four-hitter against the Raiders, striking out nine.
"Hannah and Izzy, they're a 1-2 punch. Hannan goes north-south, Izzy goes east-west," Gaffin said. "Most of our games started with one and finished with the other. How many teams are blessed to be able to say they have that?"
The offense has done more than its fair share of damage as well. The Lightning hit .424 as a team, and nine players had at least 23 hits this season. Senior Lauren Strathearn
has set the table throughout the fall, leading the state with 59 hits to go along with 39 runs scored and 32 stolen bases.
"Lauren is a true gamer. She is one that will go out, and if I say I need her to do this, that's exactly what she does," Gaffin said. "The thing about this team is they hit for each other, they bunt for each other, they slap for each other. When we get a runner on in a certain position they know what I'm going to call before I call it because of the practice we do every single day."
Legacy finds itself in the same quadrant as No. 6 seed Legend (Parker)
, the defending state champion. The Titans overcame a rough stretch from August into early September in which they lost nine of 11 games. Legend has won 13 in a row since that time, including a 7-5 victory over Loveland
in the regional title game. That was the most runs put on Loveland all season.
Fossil Ridge has won 12 games in a row since a loss to Legacy on Sept. 13. Top-seeded Cherokee Trail averages nearly 12 runs a game and tossed back-to-back shutouts in the regional tournament.
Starting Friday, the 5A state title is up for grabs.
"It's the end of the season and we're now in the state tournament," Gaffin said. "It's not about how bad you want to win – it's about how bad you don't want to lose. You want to be the last one to go home."
Here is a look at each of the state's three classifications headed into Friday's first round at Aurora Sports Park:
No. 1 Cherokee Trail vs. No. 16 Chatfield, 10 a.m.No. 8 Ralston Valley vs. No. 9 Eaglecrest, 10 a.m.
No. 4 Rock Canyon vs. No. 13 Smoky Hill, 10 a.m.
No. 5 Arvada West vs. No. 12 Loveland, 10 a.m.
No. 3 Legacy vs. No. 14 Castle View, 12:15 p.m.
No. 6 Legend vs. No. 11 Columbine, 12:15 p.m.
No. 2 Fossil Ridge vs. No. 15 Regis Jesuit, 12:15 p.m.
No. 7 Broomfield vs. No. 10 Central of Grand Junction, 12:15 p.m.Overview:
Legend was the 10th overall seed a year ago before making a state turn that saw the Titans outscore their four opponents 38-14. Now the No. 6 seed, Legend hit above .400 as a team this fall and seniors Payton
and Olivia Bradley
each topped 40 hits. … Loveland junior pitcher Laurin Krings
led the state with 16 home runs, and she was a dominant 20-5 on the mound with a 0.63 ERA and 363 strikeouts in 178 innings pitched. … Eaglecrest (Centennial)
had won 11 of 12 (the only loss coming to No. 1 Cherokee Trail) before the Raptors were upset by Broomfield
5-4 in the regional title game. The team's offense is potent though – senior Rachel Sabourin
unloaded 11 of the team's 28 home runs. … Senior Kristen Reed
had 10 of Fossil Ridge's 24 home runs, and combined with Jayden Mercado
to scored 87 runs. Freshman Nikki McGaffin
was 14-0 with a 1.96 ERA and 113 strikeouts. … Daysha Mendez
of Columbine (Littleton)
hit .607 with 54 hits and 42 runs scored. Rebels sophomore Korbe Otis
was 12-5 with a 1.82 ERA and 189 strikeouts. … A young Rock Canyon team hit 27 home runs, with three players going for at least six. … Central unloaded 43 home runs. Junior Mikayla Sturns
led the team with nine. … Junior Yasmine Ybarra
had 41 hits for Smoky Hill (Aurora)
and had 10 home runs and 45 RBI. … Regis Jesuit is making its first state tournament appearance.Class 4A
No. 1 Pueblo County vs. No. 16 Ponderosa, 10 a.m.No. 8 Berthoud vs. No. 9 Pueblo West, 10 a.m.
No. 4 Golden vs. No. 13 Pueblo Central, 10 a.m.
No. 5 Mountain View vs. No. 12 Pueblo East, 10 a.m.
No. 3 Holy Family vs. No. 14 Cheyenne Mountain, 12:15 p.m.
No. 6 Erie vs. No. 11 Longmont, 12:15 p.m.
No. 2 Silver Creek vs. No. 15 Evergreen, 12:15 p.m.
No. 7 Pueblo South vs. No. 10 Wheat Ridge, 12:15 p.m.Overview:
Five teams from Pueblo made the state tournament, including top-seeded Pueblo County
Hornets (23-2) allowed only 40 runs all season, with senior
going 15-2 with 0.94 ERA and 177 strikeouts. Pueblo County hit .423 as a team. … On the other side of the bracket, Silver Creek (Longmont)
(23-2) averaged 15 runs a game, hitting .472 as a team with 37 home runs. Senior Jetta Nannen
hit .679 with 16 home runs and 68 RBI, and she was an impressive 14-2 with a 1.76 ERA and 100 strikeouts. Senior Kayla Harper
hit at a .644 clip with 52 RBI. … Holy Family (Broomfield)
also went 23-2, and showed remarkable balance on offense. Seven players had at least 30 hits, and senior Erin Caviness
is 17-1 with a 2.12 ERA and 149 strikeouts. … Golden
is riding a 16-game winning streak headed into state behind the power of juniors Makenzie Middleton
and Makayla Middleton
, who each hit above .500 and combined for 17 home runs. Senior Cassidy Paulson
pitched all but three innings for the Demons. … Senior RaLeigh Basart
hit 14 home runs for defending state champion Mountain View (Loveland)
, which had three players with at least 40 hits. … Pueblo South
handed Pueblo County one of its two losses, and played the Hornets to 1-0 loss later in the season. Senior Makayla Keck
is 14-5 with a 1.37 ERA and 156 strikeouts. … Ponderosa (Parker)
was seeded 30th of 32 teams to make the regional tournament, but the Mustangs eliminated the 14th and 19th seeds to make it to state with an 11-15 record.
No. 1 Strasburg vs. No. 16 La JuntaNo. 8 Brush vs. No. 9 The Academy
No. 4 University vs. No. 13 Fort Lupton
No. 5 Faith Christian vs. No. 12 St. Mary's
No. 3 Delta vs. No. 14 Sterling
No. 6 Lamar vs. No. 11 Meeker
No. 2 Eaton vs. No. 15 Montezuma-Cortez
No. 7 Limon vs. No. 10 Rocky FordOverview:
Five teams from the Patriot League made it to the final 16, including top-seeded and defending state
. The Indians have won four of the previous six 3A state championships. Senior Alexis Rayburn
is one of the state's top pitchers, going 10-2 with a 1.62 ERA and 162 strikeouts to this point. … Eaton's
offense is one of the state's best. The Reds hit .451 as a team, and Remington Ross
led the squad with 53 hits, 53 runs scored and 43 stolen bases. Sophomore Jennifer Jarnigan
drove in 53 runs and scored 42 more. … Delta
was coming off back-to-back 12-win seasons, but went 20-2 this fall. Sophomore Keely Porter
batted .600 with 43 RBI, and sophomore Hailee Ruble
is 14-1 with a 1.04 ERA and 101 strikeouts. … Like Eaton, University (Greeley)
gets the job done with offense. Sophomores Delaney Wieneke
batted .620 with 47 runs scored, 40 RBI and 33 stolen bases, and junior Kyra McFarland
scored 50 runs and stole 39 bases. … Rocky Ford
is a team to watch at the No. 10 seed. The Meloneers defeated both Strasburg and Eaton early in the season, but an upset loss to Brush in the regional tournament dropped Rocky Ford in the seeding. … The Academy (Westminster)
scored 313 runs, and junior Cordelia Hanger
paced the offense by hitting .848 with 51 runs scored and 39 stolen bases.