ERIE — For the top BoCoPreps.com area teams over the past several years, the road to a Class 4A softball state championship, in one way or another, has seemingly gone through Valor Christian.
Unfortunately, those roads have been closed since 2013.
While the Erie softball team enters the regional round of the state playoffs as the only undefeated team in any classification, head coach Harold Simmons still believes two-time defending champion Valor Christian will remain the team to beat until the Eagles are out of the bracket. For Simmons' Tigers, however, their early path on a hopeful state championship journey became clear when the regional brackets were released on Monday morning.
Earning the No. 1 overall seed and an opportunity to host, the Tigers (19-0) will play at home on Saturday and host the Region 1 tournament. They will welcome No. 16 Golden (14-5), No. 17 Berthoud (12-7) and No. 23 Montrose (8-11), against whom the Tigers will begin their run in the first round on Saturday.
"Obviously, we're excited to host," Simmons said. "Last year we hosted and we're going to do it again this year because we have two nice fields that our district takes great care of. We're excited to get people out and try to win a regional championship and move on. We don't know a whole lot about Montrose but we know that Golden and Berthoud have both beaten some good teams so they'll be tough games."
Valor Christian is a familiar foe to local teams.
Erie lost 1-0 to the Eagles in the state semifinals last season. The Frederick Warriors (12-7), who earned this year's 11th seed and will face No. 22 Ponderosa (9-10) in the first round of the Region 6 tournament on Saturday, lost 6-2 to Valor Christian in last year's quarterfinals and 7-4 to the Eagles in the 2014 state championship game.
The Silver Creek Raptors (16-3) are back in the state playoffs, as well. As the No. 7 seed, they will host the Region 7 tournament and face No. 26 Windsor (10-9) in the first round. Also at the Region 7 tournament, No. 23 Holy Family (11-8) will face No. 10 Air Academy (14-4) to start the tournament.
Following a length playoff hiatus, the 25th-seeded Longmont Trojans (11-7) will face host Conifer (15-4), the No. 8 seed, in the first round of the Region 2 tournament.
In Class 5A, the Broomfield Eagles (17-2) claimed the No. 1 overall seed and will host the Region 1 tournament. The Eagles will face No. 32 Denver East (8-11) in the first round. Also in the Region 1 bracket, No. 16 Legacy (13-6) will face No. 17 Castle View (11-7-1) in the first round, setting up a potential rivalry game in the second round should both Broomfield and Legacy win their first games.
"We're honored to have the number one," Broomfield head coach Paula Seifried said. "That hasn't happened in my 10 years here and it's always nice to play at home and to play in front of the most fans to can have. But either way you have to take care of business and that's what we'll have to do."
All regional tournament will use a double-elimination format and the top two teams from each regional tournament will qualify for the state tournament.
Local teams' first-round games
* All games to be played on Saturday
At Broomfield H.S.
(1) Broomfield (17-2) vs. (32) Denver East (8-11)
(16) Legacy (13-6) vs. (17) Castle View (11-7-1)
At Erie H.S.
(1) Erie (19-0) vs. (32) Montrose (8-11)
(16) Golden (14-5) vs. (17) Berthoud (12-7)
At Lutz Sports Complex in Arvada
(8) Conifer (15-4) vs. (25) Longmont (11-7)
(9) Elizabeth (16-3) vs. (24) Falcon (9-10)
At Barns Softball Complex Fields in Loveland
(6) Mountain View (16-3) vs. (27) Evergreen (11-8)
(11) Frederick (12-7) vs. (22) Ponderosa (9-10)
At Garden Acres Park in Longmont
(7) Silver Creek (16-3) vs. (26) Windsor (10-9)
(10) Air Academy (14-4) vs. (23) Holy Family (11-8)