It was the only home plate the Legacy varsity softball field had ever known, and there it was last Saturday, in its tattered state, dug out of the playing surface and relegated to a lonely, unused existence.

By no means was it LHS head coach Dawn Gaffin's choice to have it removed in favor of a brand new plate. After all, many Lightning players who have contributed to six state titles can say they've hustled, slid, or full-on dove at the thing over the years.

If you are to believe in symbolism, though, it is appropriate there is some newness to the LHS diamond. A short, two-year hiatus from the Class 5A state softball tournament was broken with the Lightning's appearance last season, and now there is a real championship frame of mind back in the LHS dugout heading into 2017.

The Front Range League in itself is going to be a bear to master — 5A runner-up Broomfield and semifinalist Fossil Ridge come specifically to mind as FRL title contenders alongside Legacy — but the confidence in the lineup is evident.

Even more so, the experience their young pitchers Hannah Farley and Izzy Kelly gained last year has senior Megan Foley extremely optimistic.

"I just think we have a chance to be really successful, and we trust each other and we all have the same ideas on how we want to succeed together," Foley said as the team gathered to do some maintenance at their home away from home. "That makes us all excited to start up and see what we can do.


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"It's my senior year, I want to go out with a bang, and I'm sure all the other girls do."

With all those titles coming between 2007 and 2013, to not see Legacy at the Aurora Sports Complex in 2014 and 2015 was certainly unusual. But, order was restored with Legacy's 15-8 season a year ago, and only three seniors departed for good in their wild, 11-10 loss to eventual state champ Cherokee Trail.

Legacy’s Hannah Farley saw plenty of time in the circle for the Lightning last season as a freshman.
Legacy's Hannah Farley saw plenty of time in the circle for the Lightning last season as a freshman. (file photo / BoCoPreps.com)

Legacy's offense was historically good last year — the Lightning slugged .821 as a team — and scored 230 runs. When they weren't trotting around the bases after home runs, they were flying around them, collecting 19 triples and stealing 80 bases.

The action on the base paths is fully expected to continue with the likes of Foley (.577 average, 17 extra-base hits, eight steals), Lauren Strathearn (.671/18/23), Ciarra Nelson (.622/14/seven) and several other sticks at the ready.

All that run-scoring did a good job of hiding the fact the Lightning were working defensively behind a freshman (Farley) and a sophomore (Kelly) in the circle. The guidance provided by senior backstop Emily Taggart was invaluable while the pair were battling through some tough games (Farley carried a 3.38 ERA while Kelly clocked in with a 4.99 ERA).

Both Kelly and Farley are excited to contribute this season even more.

"We feel closer together every day, and I think we know what to expect out of each other," Farley said of the team. "I think my role is a bit different, and I hope the team has more confidence in me. One thing that was rough for me last year was my changeup, it just wasn't all that great. But I worked with (LHS alum) Shelby Babcock and changed some of my grip with it. I think Gaffin will appreciate that."

Added Kelly, who pitched for the Corona Angels out of California this summer: "I expect myself to give up less runs, but I know the defense behind is going to work for me and we're also going to score a lot of runs."

The pair of pitchers definitely have Foley's vote of confidence.

"They've both been practicing hard, working on movement and speed," Foley said. "I faced Hannah the other day and she definitely fooled me on some pitches. They both look good."

The Lightning are bound for a high ratings percentage index (RPI) that will determine playoff fields at season's end, but they are gunning for the FRL title first and foremost — a title that comes with it status as a state title contender.

The SaberCats in Fort Collins and the rival Eagles in west Broomfield still are seen by many as the front-runners, but you won't find anyone in the Legacy camp complaining about it.

"I still remember losing to Fossil Ridge for the first time ever, and it was such a big deal back then," Foley said. "We are going to fight and try and beat the teams we should beat and compete hard against the teams that we should be competing with."

For those wondering, the old home plate is still going to be part of the LHS program in some fashion. History has dictated that it be a source of inspiration for future squads.

And it won't be long before they're beating up on the next one.

Adam Dunivan: adunivan@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/AdamDunivan24