AURORA — Earlier in the week, Legacy softball coach Dawn Gaffin mentioned how her teams always get everybody’s Sunday best.
Boy did that prove to be prophetic.
After Day 1 of the state softball tournament was pushed back a day because of Mother Nature, Legacy took care of business on Saturday at Aurora Sports Park, and the Lightning will return to the semifinals for the seventh consecutive season on Sunday.
“We talk about all the time how this program has history, but you can’t ride on history’s back,” Gaffin said. “Especially since we lost it last year.”
The fifth-seeded Lightning will play No. 9 Brighton — a bit of an upset winner in the quarterfinals over top-seeded Douglas County — at 10 a.m.
In the first round, Legacy found itself tied with 12-seeded Chatfield 2-2 after 4 1/2 innings. But as quickly as the Chargers equalized, they gave it right back. The Lightning bats answered right back in the bottom of the fifth inning.
After Shania Leon reached via a base on balls to start the inning, Celyn Whitt brought her home with a towering blast over the center field fence. Two batters later, Alyssa Geist belted another home run off Chargers starter Jessica Jarecki and it was quickly a Legacy 5-2 lead.
“It was hard not to feel nervous (after Chatfield tied the score), but you try to remain confident,” said Geist, who in the two games was 5 for 7 and hit for the cycle over that stretch. “I know my team, and I love my team and they are going to back me up in any situation.”
Haley Smith had all she needed to finish Chatfield off and closed out the game by striking out the side. Smith struck out 12 in the first game and seven in the second.
“Everyone is always a little nervous and the ones who haven’t been here before, we have to take under our wings,” Smith said. “It’s okay to be nervous, you just have to learn from it in the next game.”
In the quarterfinals against Dakota Ridge, the bats went right to work in the first against the Eagles’ Rachelle Foos. Aspen Eubanks belted a double to the left-centerfield gap and came around to score on Geist’s triple to the right-centerfield gap.
The Lightning took that 1-0 lead to the fourth and in that frame scored four times — highlighted by Whitt’s two-run single — on six hits.
Coach Gaffin’s team backed it up in the fifth with another three runs to stretch the lead to 8-1. Eight of the nine starters recorded hits, including Geist’s three and two each from 8-9 hitters Leon and Jordan Sheard. Leon went 2 for 3 and drove in three runs, including a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the fifth.
“We know when we get down to the top four, it’s the execution and the focus that is going to win us ballgames,” said Gaffin, whose team, should they get to the championship game, will play that at 1:45 p.m. Sunday.
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Legacy 8, Dakota Ridge 1
At Aurora Sports Park
Legacy (18-5) 100 430 0 — 8 13 1
Dakota Ridge (19-4) 000 100 0 — 1 6 1
W — Haley Smith (18-5). L — Rachelle Foos (18-3)
Legacy hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Celyn Whitt 4-0-1-2, Aspen Eubanks 4-1-1-0, Alyssa Geist 4-1-3-1, Haley Smith 4-0-1-0, Marina Kelly 0-1-0-0, Katelyn Kubitschek 4-1-1-0, Emily Taggart 4-0-2-1, Maddie Ertle 0-2-0-0, Kylie Barnard 2-1-0-1, Shania Leon 3-1-2-3, Jordan Sheard 3-0-2-0. Totals 32-8-13-8. 2B — Eubanks, Geist, Leon. 3B — Geist. SB — Geist.
Dakota Ridge hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Dani Valerio 3-0-0-0, Megan Sansburn 3-0-1-0, Ballie Brooks 4-0-1-0, McKenna Pendergraft 4-1-0-0, Rachelle Foos 2-0-1-0, Jessica Arneath 3-0-1-1, Shannon Bass 0-0-0-0, Cassidy Creekmore 3-0-1-0, Nichole Horan 3-0-1-0, McKenzie Wilhelm 2-0-0-0, Miranda Goepfert 0-0-0-0. Totals 27-1-6-1. 2B — Foos.
Legacy pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Smith 7-6-1-1-2-7.
Dakota Ridge pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Foos 7-13-8-7-0-3.
Legacy 6, Chatfield 2
At Aurora Sports Park
Chatfield (13-10) 000 020 0 — 2 8 1
Legacy (17-5) 101 031 x — 6 9 2
W — Smith (17-5). L — Jessica Jarecki (10-6)
Chatfield hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Natalie Gaber 3-1-0-0, Rachel VanGulick 4-0-2-1, Madison Nedved 4-0-3-1, Hayley Dunning 2-0-0-0, Rikkie Mijares 1-0-0-0, Kaitlyn Saunders 1-0-0-0, Shelby Haskins 4-0-1-0, Jessica Jarecki 4-0-1-0, Quinn Dentino 3-1-1-0, Cortney Sexton 2-0-0-0, Haley Milonas 0-0-0-0, Madison Fischer 2-0-0-0. Totals 30-2-8-2. 2B — Dentino, VanGulick.
Legacy hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Whitt 4-2-2-3, Eubanks 3-1-1-1, Geist 3-1-2-1, Smith 1-0-0-0, Kelly 0-0-0-0, Kubitschek 3-0-0-0, Taggart 3-0-0-0, Barnard 3-1-1-0, Leon 2-1-1-0, Sheard 2-0-2-0, Kamryn Brothers 1-0-0-0, Taylor Brothers 0-0-0-0. Totals 25-6-9-5. 2B — Sheard. 3B — Whitt. HR — Whitt (one on in 5th); Geist (solo in 5th).
Chatfield pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Jarecki 5-6-5-4-3-3; Sexton 1-3-1-1-0-0.
Legacy pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Smith 7-8-2-2-2-12.