PLAYERS TO WATCH
TAYLOR GILMORE, Sr., Broomfield: An experienced big-game player in multiple sports, Gilmore has an outside shot to reach 50 career pitching wins.
KAYLA HARPER, So., Silver Creek: Did not mess around as a freshman, posting a .512 average with 41 hits. Should be one of Northern League's best.
LIZ JONJAK, Sr., Lyons: Might be from a lesser-known program, but she has simply pounded out a lot of hits over three years and her consistency is special.
LINNIE MALKIN, Sr., Broomfield: Three-year career includes a .466 average, nearly 100 RBI and 21 homers ... need we say more?
TAYLOR NIELSEN, Jr., Longmont: She's stolen 20 bags each of the past two years as a catcher, but now she'll be able to use her speed in the outfield.
RIO SANCHEZ, Sr., Erie: Like Gilmore, Sanchez has been the Tigers' ace for awhile and could easily reach 60 career pitching wins and 600 career K's.
EMILY TAGGART, Sr., Legacy: Taggart has been "in the zone" for two seasons now — hitting .564 in 151 plate appearances. No reason she slows down.
PARIS WOODS, Sr., Frederick: Batting average has increased every year, and she stole 20 bases in 2015. The Warriors will utilize her speed once again.
JULIA WYATT, Sr., Frederick: Wyatt really broke through last year, and she is driven to help FHS reach 4A's pinnacle as a senior.
For the first time, RPI will be used to determine the playoff fields for the three softball classifications after the regular season is complete. The Class 3A bracket will consist of 24 teams while 32 teams make the 4A and 5A tournaments, and regional tournaments will take place on October 15 at various sites. The state tournament for all three classes are October 21-22 at Aurora Sports Park.
Coach: Pam Arnold (Second season).
2015 record: 2-17 overall; 1-13 Class 4A Northern League.
Returning starters: Sydney Arthur (Jr., 3B/1B); Jaycie Baca (Jr., OF/2B); Katie Bush (Jr., 1B/OF); Isabella Caccia (So., OF); Kelly McCarty (Jr., P/UT); Grace Morrow (So., C/UT); Harmony Wright (Jr., 2B/3B).
Others to watch: Fabiola Longoria (Fr., UT); Ana Mestas (Fr., UT).
Outlook: Headed back to the 5A Front Range League, the Panthers are looking to turn a corner with a solid group of juniors and some newcomers that will find their niche in the field. Arnold is confident the team will be better defensively, but Arthur and McCarty will be heavily relied on for run production.
Coach: Paula Seifried (10th season).
2015 record: 16-6 overall; 10-1 Class 5A Front Range League.
Returning starters: Megan Beisterfield (Sr., IF); Avery Bohn (Sr., OF/P); Taylor Gilmore (Sr., P/IF); MacKenzie Jackson (Sr., UT); Kendall Lockwood (Sr., OF); Linnie Malkin (Sr., 3B); Mattira Morales (Sr., 1B/3B); Cassidy Sutton (Jr., OF/2B); Brennan Thomas (Sr., 2B/SS).
Others to watch: Lainey Hughes (Jr., OF/C); Maddison Wagner (Jr., 1B/C).
Outlook: After outscoring opponents by almost 100 runs a year ago, the Eagles were upended in the first round of state by eventual 5A runner-up Pomona. The drive to improve started then, and now Broomfield appears primed for another Front Range League title. Malkin and Gilmore combined for 14 home runs last year, but in general there are no slouches at the plate for this team. Gilmore is the ace in the circle, too, looking for a third season of 14 or more wins.
Coach: Kristi Sawers (First season).
2015 record: 6-13 overall; 2-12 Class 4A Northern League.
Returning starters: Alex Burgess (Sr., SS); Amaya Cox (Jr., P/IF); Riley Grieble (Sr., 2B); Chloe Radar (So., CF); Maggie Reed (Sr., 1B).
Others to watch: TomiKay Borrego (So., IF); Jessica Handwerker (So., P/OF); Chantelle Humphries (Jr., IF); Kerry Malone (So., IF/OF).
Outlook: The Warriors actually finished 2015 with a 4-3 mark over their final seven games, and the mentioned group of seniors are ready to work toward getting off to a good start and avoiding any slumps. That said, Sawers said there is still a lot of youth on the team and the emphasis will be developing knowledge of the game along with reinforcing routines.
Coach: Harold Simmons (Second season).
2015 record: 21-3 overall; 11-1 Class 4A Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Lynsey Bauchert (Sr., OF/DH); Elisa Capra (Jr., C/1B); Maddie Foster (Sr., 2B); Hannah Hackney (Jr., C/1B); Kara Kovets (Jr., UT); Jade Phillips (Jr., OF); Rio Sanchez (Sr., P); Morgan Weber (Jr., 3B).
Others to watch: Katie Huodner (Jr., OF); Maddie Leach (So., P/1B); Kat Sackett (Fr., 1B/OF).
Outlook: Obviously there are high expectations for the Tigers with Sanchez ruling the circle — and capable of hitting bombs with frequency. The senior committed to Central Arkansas, giving herself a clear mind when it comes to playing and the defense behind her should be sound. Simmons only holds reservations about the offense, but five players return coming off .300 or better averages in 2015.
Coach: Sarah Kosorok (First season).
2015 record: 2-17 overall; 1-10 Class 5A Front Range League.
Outlook: Kosorok becomes the third Knights coach in the past three years, and Fairview will have to find a pitcher or two this year who can limit opponents a bit more after FHS yielded 182 runs in 19 contests in 2015.
Coach: Roger Dufour (22nd season).
2015 record: 17-6-1 overall; 11-1 Class 4A Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Grace Brunstrom (Jr., 1B); Aspen Dufour (Jr., OF); Hanna Ellis (Sr., C); Alicia Hernandez (Sr., P); Lorena Hernandez (Jr., DP); Brooklyn Johnson (Sr., 3B/P); Maddie McCullough (Jr., DP); Paris Woods (Sr., OF); Julia Wyatt (Sr., OF).
Others to watch: Tori Dufour (So., UT); Makenna Goddard (Jr., UT/P); Anjelee Huerta (Sr., OF); Brit Massey (Jr., UT); Maddy Massey (Jr., UT); Kaitlyn Reagin (Jr., IF/P); Jessica Teller (So., OF).
Outlook: As with every perennial contending team, filling in the holes that seem gigantic in preseason always seems to happen for Frederick and for the Warriors this year it is finding that shortstop that is going to be as dynamic as Mae Mitchell was. However, FHS has a group of seniors that have been varsity-strong for four years and the lineup should remain tough top to bottom. Alicia Hernandez and Johnson split pitching duties last year, but that is one area where coach Dufour hopes depth blossoms.
Holy Family Tigers
Coach: Mitch Martinez (Third season).
2015 record: 8-14 overall; 4-8 Class 4A Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Erin Caviness (So., P/1B); Katelyn Caviness (Sr., OF); Taryn Cook (Sr., OF); Skylar Gardner (Sr., 3B); Jalen Gonzales (Jr., P/OF); Kendall Holmes (Sr., P/1B); McKenna Papacek (Jr., UT); Sara Rode (So., IF).
Others to watch: None.
Outlook: The Tigers are a proud program that has struggled to find overall success since the move up to 4A, but Martinez said he knows his girls are in for the ride in his third season. Holy Family has a strong non-league schedule that includes 5A opponents, but the slate will include two extra TVL games (now 14 of the 19 regular season contests) with the addition of Skyline. They'll rely on Gardner, who had 33 RBI last year.
Coach: Dawn Gaffin (17th season).
2015 record: 10-11-1 overall; 6-5 Class 5A Front Range League.
Returning starters: Trisha Cook (Jr., 1B/3B); Parker Dannenberg (Jr., 2B/OF); Megan Foley (Jr., CF); Meghan Hansen (Sr., C/OF); Isabella Kelly (So., P); Katelyn Kubitschek (Sr., IF); Lauren Strathearn (So., OF); Emily Taggart (Sr., C).
Others to watch: None.
Outlook: Outsiders will view Legacy's 2015 season as an anomaly, as they should. For the girls on the team, there were lessons learned throughout the year that will pay dividends this season. Taggart is one of the bright catchers in the Front Range League and should be in for a great season at the plate, and there is hope Isabella Kelly can dominate the circle, too.
Coach: Kelsey Walters (Second season).
2015 record: 9-10 overall; 6-8 Class 4A Northern League.
Returning starters: Ali Aitken (Sr., 3B); Natalia Alaniz (Jr., SS/OF); Ashley Dillow (So., 2B/OF); Jenna Moore (Jr., P); Taylor Nielsen (Jr., OF); Katrina Sabol (So., OF/1B).
Others to watch: Ayahna Bustamante (Fr., SS); Aislin Khleif (Jr., 1B); Angeline Mitchell (Fr., OF/P); Melissa Mosness (So., OF/2B); Alexa Nielsen (Fr., C).
Outlook: As an LHS alum, Walters is ecstatic about the direction the Trojans are going and she continues to praise her team for the work they put in to compete in a tough league. There's going to be a new look with Moore coming in to pitch while Taylor Nielsen will move from backstop to outfield. Moore did pitch a bit last year, backing up Hali Walters, while contributing a .360 batting average.
Coach: Amy Renaldi (Third season).
2015 record: 6-13 overall; 3-9 Class 3A District 3.
Returning starters: Shaeli Herman (Jr., C); Madison Johnson (Jr., 3B); Liz Jonjak (Sr., SS).
Others to watch: None.
Outlook: The Lions are looking to rebuild after losing six seniors to graduation, and as Renaldi put it, as a small school that kind of hit is not easy to take. The need is for a pitcher or two to emerge, but the numbers from Herman, Johnson and Jonjak suggest they will be able to score some runs as Jonjak hit .482 last year to lead the team.
Coach: Amanda Macaluso (Third season).
2015 record: 10-12 overall; 3-9 Class 4A Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Marlee Hebda (Jr., C); Jada Levine (Jr., OF/P); Makenzie Regan (Sr., P/1B); Anna Veltien (Jr., P/IF).
Others to watch: Emma Drouhard (Jr., 2B); Erin Hanafin (Fr., UT); Ali Osborn (Sr., IF).
Outlook: With the return of Regan to the circle after a shoulder injury, the Mavericks have the potential of closing the gap between their non-league success and the trials within the TVL a year ago. Macaluso is excited about the competitive experience within her younger classes to add to the eagerness of the returners to get back to winning. Levine is coming off a breakthrough varsity season (.421 average, 12 RBI).
Coach: Erika Sponenberg (Third season).
2015 record: 8-11 overall; 2-9 Class 5A Front Range League.
Returning starters: Peyton Allen (So., SS); Erin Hersey (Sr., OF/P); Skylar Laman (So., CF); Laura Macdonald (Sr., 3B); Sydney Marchetti (Sr., 2B/UT); Emily Stephenson (Sr., 1B/UT); Payton Thomas (So., P); Hannah Urbach (Sr., C).
Others to watch: None.
Outlook: The Coyotes hit a skid down the stretch last season but are looking to put that in the past knowing they still had one of their best campaigns in recent years with eight wins. There is some power in the lineup with Thomas and Urbach, and Thomas also appears on track to be the ace in the circle. The challenge remains to be able to sneak some wins over the established FRL powers.
Coach: Bobby Matthews (Sixth season).
2015 record: 12-9 overall; 10-4 Class 4A Northern League.
Returning starters: Jaila Anderson (Jr., IF/OF); Maddie Kunkel (Sr., P/UT); Grace Ladd (Sr., P/1B); Aleris Law (Jr., IF/OF); Savvy Rafkin (So., OF).
Others to watch: Calista Law (Fr., 2B/OF); Megan Little (Sr., 1B); Hailey Noterman (Sr., 3B/OF); Nikki Sims (Fr., OF/2B); Mady Vaughan (Fr., C/IF); Reagan Wills (Fr., C/3B).
Outlook: It could be coincidence but the Cougars have been very good in even-numbered years under Matthews (23-2 in 2012, 16-6-1 in 2014) so perhaps 2016 will be another banner campaign for NHS. Ladd, who recently committed to Brown, will return to the circle this fall and Vaughan is one of several area girls who played on a 14U ASA team that won the Class A Western National Championship tournament in July. The big hurdle for Matthews is finding the right players in the right positions to attain the most success defensively.
Peak to Peak Pumas
Coach: Brandin Becher (Third season).
2015 record: 6-13 overall; 6-5 Class 3A District 1.
Returning starters: Morgan Brantmeyer (Jr., C/UT); Georgia Dauzvardis (So., OF); Claire Hankla (Jr., IF); Heather Holtgrieve (So., P/UT); Emma Hyman (So., P/IF); Emma Jensen (So., OF); Juliana Walther (So., IF/U).
Others to watch: Julia Coates (Fr., IF/U); Kara Jensen (Fr., OF); Ashton Jones (Fr., OF).
Outlook: The Pumas have a dugout full of players returning who got a lot of varsity playing time, so the base is there for Becher in his third season at the helm. The biggest thing for the team is working on cutting down errors in the field, followed by getting down some of the more important aspects of offense so crucial in the game — baserunning and bunting. The few freshmen on the squad should be heavily involved.
Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Ryan Beavers (10th season).
2015 record: 16-7-1 overall; 11-3 Class 4A Northern League.
Returning starters: Rebecca Dunn (Sr., C/UT); Dana Dwyer (Jr., P/1B); Emma Flynn (Jr., C/2B); Rebecca Gruner (Jr., P/1B); Kayla Harper, So., SS/OF); Jetta Nannen (So., P/3B); Casey Wagner (Sr., CF/SS); Makenna Wright (Sr., 3B/OF).
Others to watch: Maya Amidon (So., 2B/OF); Bailey Beavers (So., OF/3B); Morgan Cook (Jr., 1B/3B); Makayla Garcia (Fr., 1B/UT); Mallory Granger (Jr., 2B/OF); Kendra Green (Jr., P/SS); Lee Ann Kuckuk (So., C/OF); Lucy Scott (So., 3B/P); Brooke Wager (So., 2B/C).
Outlook: The Raptors should continue to knock on the door in 4A, a year after making the quarterfinals. Coach Beavers is confident that the depth throughout the field will yield excellent defense through seven innings, all in support of three returning pitchers (Nannen, Dwyer, Gruner) and another couple hurlers waiting in the wings. There are plenty of hitters returning coming off .400 or better seasons (Dunn, Dwyer, Harper, Wagner), making the Raptors a feared lineup in the Northern League.
Coach: Don Johnson (First season).
2015 record: 10-11 overall; 8-2 Class 3A District 1.
Returning starters: Yesi Antunez Cortez (Sr., C); Hailey Johnson (Jr., SS); Ally Levin (So., OF/1B); Alyssa Powell (Sr., 3B); Tessa Powell (Sr., 2B/OF); Yesi Salomon (Jr., OF); Emma Swaney (So., 1B/OF).
Others to watch: Julie Sanders (Fr., P).
Outlook: Johnson was a volunteer assistant for the team last year, and he'll inherit a team that went 26-18 the past two years at the 3A level and are ready to jump back to the 4A Tri-Valley League. Skyline showed a knack for hitting but was involved in high-scoring games all year long. Sanders may play a key role in the circle, allowing Johnson to go back to playing shortstop full time after the junior pitched a lot in 2015.
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