AURORA — Late-inning scoring surges were the theme of the opening day of the state softball championships for BoCoPreps.com area teams at the Aurora Sports Park.
At one point or another after the fourth inning of their respective games, Broomfield, Legacy, Erie, Silver Creek and Frederick each had never-say-die rallies that made for a pretty intense day in the Class 5A and 4A fields.
And for the no. 11 seeded Raptors, they could have used just one more crooked number.
After Casey Wagner's 3-run home run in the sixth inning against No. 6 Frederick lifted Silver Creek into a quarterfinal matchup against defending champion Valor Christian, the Raptors' Kendra Green went pitch-for-pitch with Eagles talented junior Ali Kilponen.
It was an edge-of-your-seat kind of finish, a rare pitcher's duel in this edition of the tournament overall. But No. 3 Valor was able to take advantage of one of its threats, and it came in the bottom of the seventh inning as Abby Zuschlag's single right up the middle of the infield with two outs scored the only run of the game and sent Valor to Saturday's semifinals along with No. 1 Erie, No. 5 Air Academy and No. 10 Mountain View.
Wagner, one of just three seniors for the Raptors, was overwhelmed with Silver Creek's performance this year as they went 19-5. That came to a head with the tussle against 22-1 Valor, particularly in how Green and the defense came through to stave off several potential scoring chances.
"We knew what we were up against, and we all knew we had to step things up in a big way, but as soon as we stepped on the field we thought we could stay right with them," said Wagner, who hit her fifth home run of the season against Frederick as part of a 9-7 win.
The Raptors had leadoff batters get aboard off Kilponen in the sixth and seventh innings but couldn't bring them home. Likewise, until that final stanza, Green made some big pitches throughout to induce outs.
In the seventh, she got Kaleigh Kreimeyer to pop up for the first out, but Hannah Hollander's ensuing hit to left field skipped all the way to the wall allowing her to get to second. Savannah Behabetz grounded right back to Green for the second out, but that put Hollander at third base for Zuschlag's poke right over the second base bag.
"I only got one year with Kendra but I'm so proud of what she did," Wagner said. "It was the best I've ever seen her pitch.
"One of my goals as a senior was to make it to state all four years, and that's something we've accomplished. I'm very proud of that, and we were so close to (making the semis). But I'm not disappointed at all."
The Raptors had plenty of onlookers from Erie after the Tigers broke through late and defeated Pueblo West 9-1 in the quarterfinals. Erie (23-0) actually allowed Pueblo West to stake itself a 1-0 lead, but Rio Sanchez shut the door on the Cyclones and then started a six-run fifth inning with a solo home run. Kara Kovets also homered and Hannah Hackney went 2-for-4 with an RBI, giving EHS a Saturday date with Air Academy.
Erie also beat Pueblo South in Friday's opener, albeit more comfortable.
"We saw that Pueblo West had pulled out their first game in 10 innings and we knew they were going to be excited against us, and so we knew we had to give them everything we had, too," Hackney said. "We rally behind each other, but for Rio as a pitcher to be able to hit like she does, it's just a bonus.
"We were aggressive when we needed to be on the bases because we knew we needed to keep adding runs against a team like that."
In 5A, No. 1 seed Broomfield didn't mess around against No. 16 Cherry Creek as the Eagles scored 13 runs in the first inning to open their state bid with a 16-1 win. However, against a Douglas County team that had knocked out defending 5A champ Mountain Range, BHS didn't pull away until a four-run fifth frame.
Maddie Morales and Avery Bohn each hit three-run home runs — Morales's came in the fifth and Bohn's in the sixth — of an eventual 12-4 win. Taylor Gilmore earned her 20th and 21st wins of the year allowing no earned runs in 11 innings. The Eagles will face a familiar foe Saturday morning in Fossil Ridge — whom they beat 5-0 on Sept. 20 in Front Range League play.
No. 16 Legacy nearly joined the Eagles in the second round but fell to No. 2 Cherokee Trail 11-10 — a contest the Cougars led by an 11-3 count entering the sixth inning. Legacy made it 11-7 by the time the seventh had rolled around, and it took an excellent defensive play in the infield to keep the tying run from scoring.
As mentioned, Frederick's fate was decided in the first round Friday as well. However, the Warriors were pesky as Silver Creek held leads of 6-2 and 9-5. Senior Julia Wyatt hit a home run in the loss.
Class 5A state tournament
Cherokee Trail 11, Legacy 10
At Aurora Sports Park
Legacy 002 014 3 — 10 16 5
Cherokee Trail 312 230 x — 11 11 3
W — Emily Bell. L — Isabella Kelly.
Broomfield 16, Cherry Creek 1
Broomfield (13)02 100 0 — 16 18 1
Cherry Creek 001 000 0 — 1 5 2
Broomfield hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Bohn 4-2-2-2, Thomas 3-3-3-0, Kitto 0-1-0-0, Anast 0-1-0-0, Malkin 4-2-3-3-, Jackson 3-0-1-1, Biesterfeld 3-2-3-6, Hughes 3-1-1-0, Morales 1-2-1-0, Lockwood 3-1-2-0, Gilmore 3-1-2-2, Wagner 1-0-0-0. 2B —Bohn. HR —Malkin, Biesterfeld.
Broomfield pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Gilmore 4-5-1-0-1-6.
Broomfield 12, Douglas County 4
Broomfield 000 147 — 12 15 1
Douglas County 000 004 0 — 4 6 1
Broomfield hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — 3-1-1-3, Thomas 3-1-0-0, Kitto 0-2-0-0, Anast 0-2-0-0, Malkin 2-3-2-0, Jackson 4-0-3-0, Biesterfeld 4-0-2-0, Hughes 3-0-1-1, Morales 4-2-2-4, Lockwood 4-1-2-0, Gilmore 4-0-2-3. 2B —Malkin, Lockwood.
Broomfield pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Gilmore 7-6-4-4-2-6
Class 4A state tournament
Silver Creek 9, Frederick 7
At Aurora Sports Park
Silver Creek 240 003 0 — 9 12 2
Frederick 200 032 0 — 7 10 4
W — Jetta Nannen. L — Kaitlin Reagin.
Valor Christian 1, Silver Creek 0
Silver Creek 000 000 0 — 0 5 1
Valor Christian 000 000 1 — 1 5 1
W — Kilponen. L — Green.
Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kayla Harper 4-0-0-0, Jetta Nannen 3-0-1-0, Dana Dwyer 3-0-0-0, Casey Wagner 3-0-2-0, Kendra Green 2-0-0-0, Emma Flynn 2-0-0-0, Makayla Garcia 3-0-2-0, Makenna Wright 3-0-0-0, Rebecca Dunn 3-0-0-0.
Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Kendra Green 6.2-5-1-1-2-6.
Erie 11, Pueblo 2
Pueblo South 000 000 0 — 2 3 1
Erie 060 014 0 — 11 12 1
Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Huonder 0-0-1-0-0, Sanchez 4-4-0-1-0, Sacket 3-1-2-2-, Phillips 2-1-1-0, Capra 4-1-1-2, Kovets 4-1-1-3, Weber 3-1-1-0, Hackney 4-2-2-1, Foster 4-2-2-1, Bauchert 3-1-1-1. 2B —Sanchez, Sackett, Phillips, Kovets, Hackney Foster. HR —Capra.
Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Sanchez 7-3-2-1-0-12.
Erie 9, Pueblo West 1
Pueblo West 001 000 0 — 1 4 0
Erie 001 062 0 — 9 10 1
Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Sanchez 4-1-3-1, Brand 0-1-0-0, Quijas 0-0-0-0, Jardine 0-1-0-0, sackett 3-1-0-0, Phillips 2-1-0-0, Capra 2-1-1-0, Kovets 4-1-1-2, Weber 3-0-0-0, Hackney 4-0-2-1, Foster 4-1-2-1, Bauchert 4-1-1-1.
Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Sanchez 7-4-1-0-5-7.