AURORA — Silver Creek could have blamed youth for an early offensive lull.
Erie could’ve conceded in a large hole.
Holy Family could’ve rested on its laurels.
Instead, the three local teams moved into second day of the Class 4A state softball tournament after a wild Friday at Aurora Sports Park.
The morning began with sophomore Ashley Gaccetta’s walk-off home run in the first round for the fifth-seeded Raptors, whose 10th straight appearance at state included wins over No. 12 Coronado and No. 4 Wheat Ridge on Day 1.
Then went No. 2 Holy Family, which won in a 19-0 blink over No. 15 Mesa Ridge, only to later need a strong performance from Cassidy Chvatal in a 5-3 win over Pueblo Central in a nail-biting second round.
Nearby, Erie played its No. 14 Cinderella seed to perfection — rallying from six runs down to win in extras over No. 3 Pueblo South. And then grabbing a wire-to-wire win over No. 11 D’Evelyn to advance.
Silver Creek will face Golden in its third straight trip to semifinals Saturday morning.
Across the bracket, Erie’s magical run will stack up against Holy Family’s title defense.
“I mean, of course we think about (winning the 2018 state title) — obviously, it was huge in our lives,” Holy Family catcher Abby Edwards said. “But it’s a totally different year with a totally different team. We’re just coming into it as a whole new team, and we can do anything we set our minds to.”
That sense of belief weaved across the three teams on a picturesque day in Aurora.
Silver Creek, which graduated a decorated senior class from 2018, played like a team far beyond its years. Junior pitcher Maddie Kuehl dazzled through two games, getting the better of Cougars starter Jenna Ruggaber in a Game 1 shutout before holding down an offensively talented Wheat Ridge team in Game 2.
“This team is so young, but there’s something about the energy that everyone has,” Kuehl said. “It’s like everyone’s been playing here for years.”
She then grinned thinking of Gaccetta’s two-out bomb from hours earlier.
“It was insane,” she said. “That’s probably one of my favorite moments at Silver Creek.”
Holy Family won its 15th and 16th straight games of the year behind the arm of Chvatal. The junior pitched two hitless innings in a three-frame victory to start the day. She then returned after a short break with a gritty performance in the second round, allowing three runs while fanning eight.
Mitch Martinez’s team needs just two more wins to repeat.
“This team is a calm, go-to-work, do-what-you-do kind of team,” he said.
Its next opponent Erie has quite a character, too.
The Tigers led the Colts 7-0, then fell down 13-7. Kaylee Armstrong and Madysun Vaughan homered in a five-run seventh to put the Tigers up 14-13. Then after Colts sent it to extras, Erie went ahead for good with four runs in the eighth to lead it to a chaotic 18-14 victory.
Vaughan homered again against D’Evelyn in helping Erie advance.
“Honestly, I think it’s about the chemistry we have and how we all stuck together,” Vaughan said.
“It’s just about sticking together for us.”
No. 6 Mead, the other local team in the 4A bracket, bowed out in the first round to D’Evelyn. The Mavericks won their previous six games, including their region tournament over favorite Pueblo Central.
The final day of the state tournament begins at 10 a.m. Saturday. Finals are expected to start around 1:30 p.m.