AURORA — Entering the 2016 Class 5A state softball tournament as the favorites and the top seed, the Broomfield Eagles were prepared for the suffocating pressure each inning of each game continued to bring.
It led to putting a couple of teams away late in games on their way to a phenomenal run to the Saturday's championship game.
Douglas County hung around in the quarterfinals, but the Eagles dispatched them with a sixth-inning onslaught; Front Range League foe Fossil Ridge held BHS off the scoreboard in the semifinals until a three-run fifth inning; and again in the championship game against No. 2 seed Cherokee Trail, the Cougars found a way to hang around.
A collected Broomfield dugout remained that way even when the Eagles missed a chance to win the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, and even when CT's Chloe Knapp hit a leadoff home run in the eighth to give the visitors a 1-0 lead, the Eagles felt the stage was set for a rally.
But there was no magic to be had this time. The Eagles didn't go silently in the eighth frame down that lone run, but Linnie Malkin's flyout to the right field wall and into the glove of Kaitlynn Roenfeldt for the last out was somewhat fitting for a team that came up just short of its first softball championship.
"There was nothing different in the dugout," BHS coach Paula Seifried said after the 1-0 Cougars' win, their first title in the sport. "We trusted each other and still thought we could do it. This happens. It's tournament time and anything can happen."
If anyone knows that, it's this Broomfield squad. The Eagles in 2015 were upset in the first round of state by Pomona and the feeling lingered and motivated them at the same time all of this season. There was an overwhelming feeling the Eagles were title-game bound, and they were strong in almost every facet of the game throughout despite the expectations.
But chances to get a run across on the Cougars' Emily Bell in the title tilt were thwarted each and every time. Avery Bohn doubled to lead off the first inning for BHS, and she was stranded at third; in the sixth, a one-out walk to Bohn proved fruitless; and in the seventh, Taylor Gilmore doubled to lead off the BHS at-bat but a failed bunt and not being able to get the ball out of the infield kept it 0-0 going to the eighth.
Gilmore, who recently committed to Arizona, was spectacular in the circle in the midst of a nerve-wracking experience. She walked four batters but allowed just three singles through seven frames.
But Knapp, who walked-off Rock Canyon in the quarterfinals with a grand slam, made for herself another MVP moment by taking an early pitch in the eighth just over the centerfield wall for the only run the Cougars would need.
MacKenzie Jackson reached on an error to lead off the eighth, but after a strikeout she was erased at second base on a fielder's choice for the second out. That put Brennan Thomas at first base for Malkin — the team's best hitter.
She got a lot of it, but just not enough.
"Their pitching was good," said Malkin, who made some stellar plays at third base the entire game and was robbed of a double by CT's Alyssa Pinto in the fourth. "We usually can hit a little and this one just wasn't ours. Their defense was outstanding and their heads just ended up in it a little more than ours.
"But I think we played a great game. Taylor pitched phenomenal and she always keeps it close. She's the best in the state. We couldn't get it all but we were glad to get to the title game. It just didn't turn out completely how we wanted."
Both teams finished 22-3 for the year.
"This group of seniors was very special, and it would have been great to cap it off the right way for them," Seifried said. "I just know they are still going to do great things."
Class 5A state championship game
Cherokee Trail 1, Broomfield 0 (8 innings)
At Aurora Sports Park
Cherokee Trail (22-3) 000 000 01 — 1 4 1
Broomfield (22-3) 000 000 00 — 0 3 2
W — Emily Bell. L — Taylor Gilmore.
C. Trail hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Megan Medhus 3-0-0-0, Alyssa Pinto 4-0-0-0, Skylar Higens 4-0-2-0, Alexis Cortez 0-0-0-0, Chloe Knapp 4-1-1-1, Delanie Cox 3-0-0-0, Sonoma Olson 2-0-0-0, Lexi Gillen 3-0-0-0, Kaitlynn Roenfeldt 4-0-0-0, Haley Albers 2-0-1-0, Audrey Pickett 0-0-0-0. Totals 29-1-4-1.
Broomfield hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Avery Bohn 3-0-1-0, Brennan Thomas 4-0-0-0, Linnie Malkin 4-0-0-0, Taylor Gilmore 3-0-1-0, Matti Morales 3-0-0-0, Megan Biesterfeld 2-0-0-0, Kendall Lockwood 3-0-1-0, Lainey Hughes 3-0-0-0, MacKenzie Jackson 3-0-0-0, Mallory Kitto 0-0-0-0. Totals 28-0-3-0.
C. Trail pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Bell 8-3-0-0-2-7.
Broomfield pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Gilmore 8-4-1-1-4-9.
Class 5A state semifinal
Broomfield 7, Fossil Ridge 0
At Aurora Sports Park
Fossil Ridge (19-6) 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
Broomfield (22-2) 000 034 x — 7 10 0
W — Taylor Gilmore. L — Bruce.
Fossil Ridge hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Mercado 3-0-1-0, Philop 3-0-0-0, Moddelmog 2-0-0-0, Reed 3-0-0-0, Will 3-0-0-0, Bruce 3-0-0-0, Jamison 2-0-1-0, Henderson 2-0-0-0, Delaney 2-0-0-0. Totals 23-0-2-0.
Broomfield hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Bohn 4-2-1-0, Thomas 4-2-3-2, Malkin 3-2-2-2, Gilmore 2-0-0-1, Morales 3-0-1-1, Biesterfeld 3-0-1-1, Lockwood 2-0-0-0, Hughes 3-0-1-0, Jackson 3-0-1-0, Anast 0-0-0-0, Kitto 0-1-0-0. Totals 27-7-10-7.
Fossil Ridge pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Bruce 4-6-2-2-2-2, Jamison 1.1-3-5-2-1-1, Philop 0.2-1-0-0-0-0-0.
Broomfield pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Gilmore 7-2-0-0-3-7.