AURORA — Think the Holy Family softball team has set lofty goals?
This season, every time the Tigers have broken a team huddle at practice or at games, they don’t bellow “Go Tigers!” or any other team-centric chant.
No, Holy Family breaks each huddle reaffirming their collective dedication toward winning the Class 3A state title. On Saturday the Tigers moved one step closer to that goal, dispatching Dolores Huerta with a 3-0 victory in the state quarterfinals at Aurora Sports Park.
The third-seeded Tigers will be seeking their first title-game appearance since 2008 on Sunday morning when they take on second-seeded Sterling in the semifinals at 10 a.m. The winner will advance to the title game at 1:30 p.m.
“Every time we break we say, ‘Win state!’ and that’s been our goal ever since the beginning of the season,” junior Macy Cox said. “We’re definitely looking forward to the state championship, but we’re never looking over anyone, and Sterling, of course. We’re just so excited. For myself, I’ve never had this feeling before. I really think we can do it this year.”
It was a peculiar game, as the Tigers’ No. 1 starter, Natalie Gardon, struggled through uncharacteristic wildness while the potent Holy Family offense was forced to execute the nuances of small-ball in order to scratch out three runs.
It was a winning formula, however, and one head coach Glen Ramos will gladly take.
“Any time you’re in a state tournament you have to make sure that you have everything working, whether it’s small-ball or whether it’s mashing the ball,” said Ramos, whose club scored 33 runs in two regional victories last week. “You have to make sure you have all of those ready to go. And whichever one you need, you use.”
Gardon, a sophomore making her first state tournament start, struggled with nerves and, consequently, her control. After issuing two walks in the first inning, Gardon ran into more trouble in the third after allowing three consecutive walks to lead off the frame. But a popup, followed by a 1-2-3 double play, kept Dolores Huerta off the scoreboard. Gardon surrendered another leadoff walk in the fourth but once again was bailed out by a double-play.
Gardon still picked up the victory after Holy Family scratched out a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth, using a bunt single and an infield single to set up a sacrifice fly from Kaycie Wood and an RBI single from Jazmin Means.
The Tigers padded their lead on a sacrifice fly from Grace Petersen in the fifth. Cox relieved Gardon for the final three innings, maintaining the shutout while surrendering just one walk and one hit.
“We want to go all the way,” Petersen said. “We’re ready to win and ready to take on anyone who comes along. We’re not ready to lose at all.”
Holy Family reached the 3A semifinals last year but was eliminated by Valley.
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Holy Family 3, Dolores Huerta 0
At Aurora Sports Park
Dolores Huerta (11-8) 000 000 0 — 0 4 0
Holy Family (19-2) 000 210 0 — 3 7 2
W — Gardon (10-1). L — Trujillo. Sv — Cox.
Dolores Huerta hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Chavez 3-0-1-0, Trujillo 3-0-1-0, Mestas 3-0-0-0, Henriquez 2-0-0-0, Duran 2-0-0-0, Pence 3-0-0-0, Sanchez 3-0-1-0, Beltran 3-0-1-0, Moreno 1-0-0-0. Totals 23-0-4-0. SB — Duran.
Holy Family hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Jaros 3-0-1-0, Draudt 3-0-0-0, Petersen 2-1-2-1, Cartin 3-0-0-0, Wood 2-0-1-1, Cox 3-1-1-0, Means 3-0-1-1, Holmes 2-0-0-0, Gardon 2-1-1-0. Totals 23-3-7-3. 2B — Wood, Petersen. SB — Petersen, Cox, Gardon Jaros.
Dolores Huerta pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Trujillo 6-7-3-3-0-1.
Holy Family pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Gardon 4-3-0-0-5-1; Cox 3-1-0-0-1-2.