• Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Abigail Zuschlag of Valor Christian slides in safe at home before the tag of Fredericks' Hanna Ellis during a quarterfinal game of the 4A state softball championships in Aurora on Saturday. Valor topped Frederick 6-2 in a rematch of last year's state title game.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Erie's Rio Sanchez pitches against Silver Creek during a 4A quarterfinal game during the state tournament Saturday at Aurora Sports Park. Erie won 8-3 and will play in Sunday's semifinals. More photos: BoCoPreps.com.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Katie Glaze, right, of Erie, tags out Brooke Wager of Silver Creek, during a 4A quarterfinal game Saturday at Aurora Sports Park.

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If there is anything in common between the softball teams at Frederick, Silver Creek and Erie, it’s that they are all incredibly young. Young enough you barely need two hands to count the number of seniors on the squads collectively.

That youth also means the chances of each team being right back at the Class 4A state tournament – where this 2015 season came to an end for two of those teams on Saturday – is pretty high.

And while all three teams won their first round games at the Aurora Sports Park, Erie emerged as the only squad to advance to Sunday’s semifinals with a 2-0 day.

The No. 2 seeded Tigers survived Discovery Canyon in 10 innings to open the day, and then were able to break away from Silver Creek in the second game of the day, winning 8-3 over the Raptors.

Erie, one of the more recognized programs in all of Colorado softball, gets a chance to face defending champion Valor Christian in the semifinals at 10 a.m.

“As a team, we’ve managed to stay focused and determined all year, and you saw it in the first game there,” senior outfielder Anne Fisher said. “That’s what’s helped us to be successful.

“The mental aspect of the game is key at this point. We know our preparation before each and every pitch has to be there.”

The Tigers almost coughed up their 4-1 win over the Thunder, allowing Discovery Canyon to tie the game 1-1 in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly. Both teams had plenty of chances to tack on runs in extra frames, but it took Rio Sanchez’s 3-run walk-off home run to finally end the game.

The Tigers seemed to use that momentum to eliminate Silver Creek, which had handled Windsor 14-6 in its first round game.

After the Raptors made it 2-1 in the second inning, Erie’s Fisher blasted a ball to left field for a two-run home run to make it 4-1. Erie’s bats livened up just enough, though Sheyann Ludwig hit a two-run blast in the seventh to keep hopes alive for SCHS.

“I hit low pitches the best, and I got one there,” Fisher said. “I wanted to help my team get further (ahead), and thankfully that kind of sparked us.”

“We were a team that struggled defensively at the beginning of the year, but they flashed the leather today and that allowed us to compete,” said Silver Creek coach Ryan Beavers, whose teams had just two seniors. “We just haven’t run into a kid with the kind of command in the circle as (Sanchez). I’m disappointed we didn’t put better swings on the ball, but sometimes that happens. We put 14 on Windsor at state. That’s how it goes.”

Frederick, seeded 11th, also had to rally to beat Berthoud for a third time, eliminating the Spartans with an 8-7 win to set up a rematch of last year’s title game with Valor Christian.

The Eagles were ready to go with their small-ball approach, to the tune of five sacrifice bunts and two more bunt singles, to scratch out a 6-2 victory. Frederick left four runners in scoring position in the loss.

“We knew their style of play and we worked on that coverage this week,” Frederick coach Roger Dufour said. “We just didn’t execute things perfectly like we needed. They pressed our defense early, and they have a pitcher (Ali Kilponen) that’s hard to climb back against once you get into a hole.

“I’m proud of the way our girls played this season.”

Adam Dunivan: dunivana@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/AdamDunivan24


CLASS 4A STATE TOURNAMENT

At Aurora Sports Park

Quarterfinal games

Valor Christian 6, Frederick 2

Frederick 001 000 1 — 2 6 0

Valor Christian 301 101 x — 6 8 1

L — Brooklyn Johnson.

Frederick hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Wyatt 4-0-1-0, Woods 4-1-2-0, Mitchell 3-1-0-0, Hall 4-0-1-1, Johnson 3-0-0-0, T. Dufour 0-0-0-0, L. Hernandez 3-0-0-0, Heath 3-0-1-0, A. Dufour 1-0-0-0, Ellis 3-0-1-0, Grace Brunstrom 0-0-0-0. Totals 28-2-6- .

Frederick pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Johnson 3-5-4-4-1-0, A. Hernandez 3-3-2-2-1-1.


Erie 8, Silver Creek 3

Silver Creek 000 100 2 — 3 3 0

Erie 101 600 x — 8 13 2

W — Sanchez. L —

Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Harper 3-0-0-0, Dunn 3-2-1-0, Ludwig 3-1-1-3, Dwyer 3-0-0-0, Mannen 3-0-1-0, Wagner 3-0-0-0, Flynn 3-0-0-0, Gruner 3-0-0-0, Wright 2-0-0-0. Totals 26-3-3-3.

Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Sanchez 2-1-0-0, Phillips 0-0-0-0, Hackney 4-0-0-1, Glaze 4-3-4-2, Bauchert 4-0-3-2, Macias 4-0-2-0, Hounder 0-1-0-0, Fisher 3-1-1-2, Foster 3-1-1-0, Wilson 3-1-2-1, Kovets 3-0-0-0. Totals 30-8-13-8.

Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Dwyer 6-13-8-8-2-1.

Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Sanchez 7-3-3-3-0-8.


First round games

Frederick 8, Berthoud 7

Frederick 103 200 2 — 8 9 4

Berthoud 001 204 0 — 7 5 3

W — Johnson.

Frederick hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Wyatt 4-2-2-1, Woods 4-2-3-2, Mitchell 2-1-0-1, Hall 4-1-0-0, Johnson 4-0-1-0, L. Hernandez, 3-1-1-1, Heath 4-0-1-0, A.Hernandez 1-0-0-0, Brunstrom 1-1-0-0, McCullough 1-0-1-1, Ellis 4-0-0-0. Totals 32-8-9-6.

Frederick pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — A. Hernandez 0.1-0-0-0-3-1, Johnson 6.2-5-7-3-4-6.


Erie 4, Discovery Canyon 1

Discovery Canyon 000 000 100 0 — 1 8 2

Erie 001 000 000 3 — 4 8 0

W — Sanchez.

Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Sanchez 5-1-1-3, Hackney 4-0-0-0, Glaze 4-0-1-0, Bauchert 3-0-1-0, Macias 4-0-0-0, Fisher 4-0-0-0, Foster 3-0-1-0, Brand 1-1-0-0, Wilson 3-1-1-0, Kovets 4-1-3-1. Totals 35-4-8-4.

Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Sanchez 10-8-1-1-2-13.


Silver Creek 14, Windsor 6

Silver Creek 401 111 6 — 14 14 0

Windsor  202 000 2 — 6 9 2