DENVER — At the beginning of every game the Legacy softball team plays under Dawn Gaffin, the Lightning players are not only issued a challenge to defeat the opposing team but also an additional personal challenge from the coach to meet a certain standard.
Most of the time, Gaffin's personal challenges are tougher than simply achieving victory.
Ranked fifth in Class 5A by the CHSAANow.com preseason poll, Legacy (2-0) is off to a good start in 2017 after defeating Wheat Ridge by a score of 13-5 at Metropolitan State University on Friday. Though Wheat Ridge (1-3) is ranked third in 4A and the game will certainly go in the books as a quality win, the Legacy players still felt as though they had come up short in more critical areas.
"I know we won but it just wasn't our best game," Lightning senior Ciarra Nelson said. "It was just bad softball and we won it with bad softball. We want to win state but we're a new team and a lot of us are still learning a lot of stuff, like how to lead, so we have a lot of work to do."
Friday's game started off with the Lightning committing two errors in the top of the first inning but still managing to hold the Farmers to a single run while stranding runners at second and third base. The Lightning immediately responded with four runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead.
Three additional runs in the third and six more in the fourth were more than enough for the Lightning to back starter Hannah Farley, who allowed four earned runs while striking out nine in a seven-inning complete game.
Having beaten Cherry Creek in its season opener, the Lightning has now outscored their first two opponents by a combined 17 runs. But competing for a state title has long been the expectation at Legacy, and Gaffin stresses that a number of smaller goals must be accomplished along the way to make it happen. To that end, the Lightning are going on an "in-town retreat" during which the team will spend most of the weekend together and work on building team chemistry.
"We keep doing the same things over and over again, making mistakes we shouldn't be, and that has to stop today," Gaffin said. "Sometimes that has to do with team bonding, getting to know each other and learning to play together. We preach to them, 'these are the girlfriends that are going to be standing at their weddings, these are the people they're going to be friends with for a lifetime.' So, it's more than just winning.
"It's about a relentless pursuit of continued improvement and that's what we're going to do tomorrow."
The Lightning will take on another top-tier club in 10th-ranked Rock Canyon on Tuesday at home. After that, Legacy will be tested by a wealth of quality competition at the Erie Tournament of Champions next weekend.
Legacy 13, Wheat Ridge 5
At Metro State University
Wheat Ridge (1-3)102 020 0 — 5 8 1
Legacy (2-0)403 600 - — 13 17 3
W — Farley. L — E. Anderson.
Wheat Ridge hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Rothstein 2-1-0-0, Welker 4-1-3-0, K. Anderson 3-1-0-0, Flotron 3-1-1-1, Shipley 4-1-1-1, I Quezada 4-0-2-0, L. Quezada 3-0-0-0, C. Storrer 4-0-1-0, A. Storrer 2-0-0-0, Wilde 1-0-0-0. Totals 30-5-8-2. 3B —Welker. SB —L. Quezada.
Legacy hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Strathearn 4-1-2-0, Olson 4-1-1-0, Foley 4-2-2-0, Cook 3-2-1-1, Nelson 3-2-3-1, Pfeifer 4-2-3-3, Hernandez-Belew 3-2-1-1, Strachan 4-1-2-0, Conradie 4-0-2-2. Totals 33-13-17-8. 2B — Nelson, Pfeifer. 3B —Pfeifer.
Wheat Ridge pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — E. Anderson 0+-2-4-4-2-0, Lujon 3-10-6-6-0-1, Wilson 3-5-3-3-1-0.
Legacy pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Farley 7-8-5-4-3-9.