AURORA — Field No. 1 in the B section at the Aurora Sports Complex has been good to Legacy softball.
For five years, the northern-most field of that wing of the facilities has been host to one of the state’s strongest softball dynasties. Legacy claimed five consecutive Class 5A titles at field No. 1. And more Lightning memories were made there than perhaps any field, save their home digs.
On Saturday another memory was made, but not one ending in a celebration and the hoisting of another gold trophy. Instead, with a 9-2 falter against Front Range League foe Loveland in the state semifinals, it was the memory of when top-seeded Legacy’s incredible run finally came to an end.
Angelique Archuleta perhaps summed up the Lightning’s feeling about the loss the most succinctly.
“It’s devastating,” said the Legacy first baseman, choking back tears.
Loveland (22-2) — a 3-1 winner over Dakota Ridge later in Saturday’s championship game — has become a rare stumbling block for Legacy (19-3-2) as of late. It is the only team to have beaten the Lightning the past two years with Saturday’s meeting marking the Indians’ third straight victory over Legacy.
Loveland wasted little time establishing itself in the game, putting six runs up on the Lightning in the opening inning. The team’s top offensive player did the most damage. Addie Coldiron sent the Indians’ first runs across home with the game’s biggest hit — a three-run home run.
Disheartening as the catcher’s hit was, it was not what really put Legacy on its heels, coach Dawn Gaffin said. From Gaffin’s standpoint, what had her team tripping up early was committing three of its four errors in the inning.
“We made some mental choices that we usually would not make,” she said. “It was kind of knock on the head of, ‘Why are we doing that now?'”
The early Loveland surge did not catch Gaffin off guard, however.
“We knew this team could hit and that we would have to answer,” said the coach, whose team won 22 straight state games. “We just didn’t answer today.”
Loveland pitcher Cassidy Smith was not an enigma as the Lightning recorded seven hits off the senior. But Smith did just enough to push any Legacy threat late into the game. Perhaps her great coup was not allowing a Legacy base runner past second until the fifth inning.
Archuleta believes her team shoulders some of the responsibility in making the Loveland pitcher look good.
“I think we were too eager in our batting,” she said. “We were too aggressive and pushed things when we were at the plate.”
The Lightning calmed themselves enough late in the game to stage a slight comeback. Archuleta and catcher Hanna Caress each came up with RBI singles in the sixth to get Legacy on the board. Then Legacy had a somewhat promising seventh. A double by Bekka Prokaski put runners on second and third.
At least for that moment, Prokaski said the rally felt like her team’s comeback in Friday’s second round where the Lightning made up three runs in their final at-bat. And while she was as broken up over the loss as the rest of her teammates, the hard-hitting second baseman could take some solace in Legacy’s showing.
“The only thing that matters to me is my team gave its all today,” she said.
Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.
Loveland 9, Legacy 2
At Aurora Sports Park
Loveland (0-0, 0-0) 611 000 1 — 9 11 4
Legacy (19-3-2) 000 002 0 — 2 7 4
W — C. Smith. L — H. Smith.
Loveland hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — C. Bakovich 5-1-1-0, Hass 3-2-1-0, King 4-1-1-1, Coldiron 3-2-1-3, Smith 5-1-2-1, Anderson 5-1-1-0, Posegate 4-1-2-2, B. Bakovich 4-0-1-0, Preciado 4-0-1-2. Totals 33-9-11-9. 2B — Hass. HR — Coldiron (three runs in 1st). SB — C. Bakovich.
Legacy hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Prokaski 4-0-3-0, Reichmuth 4-1-0-0, Whitt 4-0-0-0, Smith 3-0-2-0, Geist 0-1-0-0, Archuleta 3-0-1-1, Kelly 0-0-0-0, Caress 3-0-1-1, Brothers 0-0-0-0, Howard 3-0-0-0, Ertle 0-0-0-0, Barnard 3-0-0-0, Walling 3-0-0-0. Totals 30-2-7-2. 2B — Prokaski.
Loveland pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Smith 7-7-2-1-0-0.
Legacy pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Smith 7-10-9-6-4-1