In the age of RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) determining playoff seeding in Colorado prep sports, playing a championship schedule has become more important than ever for any team expecting to compete for a state title.
After all the championships the Erie softball team has won over the past couple decades, the Tigers program has identified a recipe for consistent contention. With the RPI changing the strategy slightly, the Tigers' longtime formula of scheduling a tough regular season has translated quite well.
As of Monday, the Tigers (10-5, 8-2 Tri-Valley) sat in third place in Class 4A in RPI scoring. They trail only undefeated Valor Christian and second-place Golden with about two weeks left in the regular season. Boasting an 8-6 conference win over Erie from last week, Holy Family (11-2, 9-1 Tri-Valley) is off to its best start in several years and currently sits fifth in 4A's RPI standings and leads the Tri-Valley League standings.
Heading down the home stretch of the season, both programs appear to be doing all the right things both on the field and in
"With the RPI, it keeps people playing tough schedules and that's important because that's the only way that any team is going to get better," Holy Family head coach Mitch Martinez said. "Our mindset has always been, 'To be the best, you have to play the best.' Pretty much every team thinks that way and they all want to challenge themselves, and you can see it in the RPI scores."
Another top-tier Tri-Valley League club, Frederick (10-5, 7-3 Tri-Valley) currently has the 11th-best RPI score in 4A.
All 4A and 5A leagues with six or more teams will receive two automatic bids to regionals and the rest of the 32-team regional round will be filled out based on the final RPI standings. As of Monday, 10th-place Silver Creek (10-4-1), 23rd-place Mead (7-7) and 26th-place Longmont (8-6) would make the 4A field. Currently on the outside looking in, Skyline (3-12) is 43rd, Niwot (4-10) is 47th and Centaurus (3-11) is 58th.
In 5A, Legacy (11-2, 5-1 Front Range) is in good shape with the fifth-best RPI score in the state. Reigning 5A runner-up Broomfield (10-4, 6-1 Front Range) sits in 11th. Fairview (6-8) is 36th, Monarch (2-12) is 55th and Boulder (3-11) is 56th.
In Class 3A, where 24 teams qualify for regionals, Lyons (5-9) is right on the cusp of qualifying for state and will need a strong finish in order to do so. Peak to Peak (5-10) is 30th.