AURORA -- One thing occurred to Paige Reichmuth late in Friday's state softball quarterfinal game: She did not want her team's legacy to end with her.
And she did not allow it to.
The shortstop for top-seeded Legacy was the catalyst for her team's tensest rally in its long history with the Class 5A state tournament. With the game's timeliest hitting and base running, she helped Legacy rally from a 4-run deficit to a 5-4 win over No. 9 Eaglecrest.
Having been around for the most recent three of the Lightning's five state championships, Reichmuth also knew what was on the line. And while that added to her nerves, it also made her step up.
"There was a lot of pressure," she said. "But I could hear everyone cheering me on, I knew I had to be confident and do something good."
Reichmuth got Legacy (19-2-2) rolling toward scoring three runs in the final inning of play. The shortstop first shocked Eaglecrest (19-5) with a two-run double authoritatively hit to right field to tie the game . Then, in the flick of Celyn Whitt's bat, Reichmuth was on her way home for the winning run, though the shortstop admits she never even really saw her teammate's RBI single that scored her from second.
"I just started running," Reichmuth said.
Reichmuth finished the inning big, but a couple other players set the table for her. Catcher Hanna Caress got the ball rolling with a single, then second baseman Bekka Prokaski put her and her teammate in scoring position with a double.
The offense was a relief for Prokaski, especially after her team suffered streaky at bats leading up to the seventh.
"It felt like everything was lifted off our shoulders," said Prokaski, who put Legacy on the board in with a RBI double in the third.
Reichmuth's play keeps Legacy's hopes of matching Erie's state-record six consecutive state titles (2000-2005). But it came in what was, coach Dawn Gaffin said, one of her team's most emotional wins of the state tournament. While the coach never doubted her Lightning, waiting for them to strike back from Eaglecreast's four first-inning runs was torture.
"I've never had tears in my eyes at state and I did today," Gaffin said. "The last time I remember a game like this was when we played Ralston Valley (for the 2009 state championship)."
Gaffin pointed out there was a marked difference between the 1-0 win for the title and Friday's game, however.
"(The Ralston game) was won by an error by them, this was a hit by us -- it's different," said the coach, whose team has now won 22 straight state tournament games. "These guys created (today's) win."
The Lightning have their work cut out for them in Saturday's semifinal game. The team faces No. 4 Loveland (20-2), a Front Range League rival with which the Lightning have a long history. The Indians have beat Legacy the past two regular seasons. The most recent was a 10-run affair spurred on by the absence of the Lightning's starting pitcher Haley Smith.
But after Friday's close shave, the Lightning do not care that much about who they face. They only care if they win.
"Really the team doesn't matter," Reichmuth said. "What does is coming out and playing our ball."
Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.
LEGACY 3, FOUNTAIN-FORT CARSON 0
At Aurora Sports Park.
Fountain-Fort Carson (12-10) 000 000 0 -- 0 3 0
Legacy (18-2-2) 010 002 x -- 3 5 0
W -- Smith (12-0). L -- Bro. Harbert (7-4)
Fountain-Fort Carson hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) -- Salazar 3-0-1-0, Jacques 3-0-0-0, Graham 3-0-1-0, Bro. Harbert 3-0-0-0, Wilson 3-0-0-0, Coleman 3-0-0-0, Bra. Harbert 2-0-1-0, Cordova 1-0-0-0, Ellis 2-0-0-0, Rolon 1-0-0-0. Totals 24-0-3-0. 2B -- Graham.
Legacy hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) -- Prokaski 3-1-1-0, Reichmuth 3-0-0-0, Whitt 3-0-0-0, Smith 3-1-2-1, Archuleta 2-0-0-1, Barnard 2-0-0-1, Howard 3-0-0-0, Walling 2-0-0-0, Caress 2-1-2-0. Totals 27-3-5-3. HR -- Smith (solo in 2nd).
Fountain-Fort Carson pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Bro. Harbert 7-5-3-3-0-0.
Legacy pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Smith 6-3-0-0-1-8.
LEGACY 5, EAGLECREST 4
At Aurora Sports Park.
Eaglecreast (19-5) 400 000 0 -- 4 10 0
Legacy (19-2-2) 001 001 3 -- 5 11 1
W -- Smith (13-0). L -- Name (11-3)
Eaglecrest hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) -- Buckley 3-1-0-0, Glover 4-1-2-0, Kigerl-Hill 4-1-2-0, Faulkner 4-1-2-1, Mashburn 4-0-2-1, Menard 4-0-2-0, Romero 3-0-0-0, Pace 3-0-1-0, Gorman 3-0-0-0. Totals 32-4-10-2. 2B -- Glover. SB -- Mashburn.
Legacy hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) -- Prokaski 4-1-2-1, Reichmuth 4-1-1-2, Whitt 4-1-3-1, Smith 3-0-2-0, Ertle 0-0-0-0, Archuleta 3-0-0-0, Barnard 3-0-1-0, Howard 2-0-0-0, Leon 1-0-0-0, Walling 3-0-0-0, Caress 3-0-2-0, Geist 0-2-0-0. Totals 30-5-11-4. 2B -- Prokaski 2, Reichmuth, Caress. SB -- Name.
Eaglecreast pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Bushman 7-11-5-5-0-2.
Legacy pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Smith 7-10-4-3-0-1-1.