League and team outlook
Front Range League
Teams and trends: Broomfield, Fairview, Fort Collins, Fossil Ridge, Horizon, Legacy, Loveland, Monarch, Mountain Range, Poudre, Rocky Mountain. Four different teams — Broomfield, Fossil Ridge, Loveland, Legacy — have won the FRL championship outright or have shared the conference title in the past six years. The Loveland Indians won the conference championship outright in 2019.
2019 league leaders: BA: Kyra Grauberger, Greeley West, .661; Hits: Kendall Aragon, Legacy, 45*; RBI: Trish Leins, Monarch, 40*; SB: Kaia Cobb, Rocky Mountain*; SLG: Kyra Grauberger, Greeley West, 1.242; W: Lauren Krings, Loveland, 24; ERA: Lauren Krings, Loveland, 0.59; K: Lauren Krings, Loveland, 339.
Numbers game: Ten players in the Front Range League stole 15 or more bases last season and seven of those players are returning this season, so there are likely to be many more players with 15-plus stolen bags this fall. Rocky Mountain’s Kaia Cobb (39), Broomfield’s Linnear Baldner (26), Legacy’s Kendall Aragon (18), Greeley West’s Jolie Foslien (17), Poudre’s Abigail Larsen (17) and Rylie Someday (15) and Legacy’s Reese Mansur (15) are the returning players who were among the league’s top 10 base stealers in 2019.
* Projected 2019 returning player.
Coach: Kale Gilmore
The Scorecard: The Eagles return nearly the entire starting lineup from their 2019 team that reached the state quarterfinals in Class 5A, so expectations are exceedingly high for Broomfield. Shortstop Hadlee Reichert (1.268 OPS) and center fielder Bryna Kapelke (1.556 OPS) are returning BoCoPreps.com all-region first teamers and returning pitchers like sophomore Breana Fiala and junior Maycee Bricker will lead a solid pitching staff after gaining valuable experience as underclassmen last season. With a strong defense that should keep Broomfield in the mix among the state’s elite all season long, Gilmore believes the sky is the limit for the Eagles if the lineup performs up to its potential.
Coach: Miranda Christie
The Scorecard: On their way to a 3-21 record, the Knights finished the 2019 season with a .231 batting average and a fielding percentage of .787. This year’s team motto is “All you’ve got is all that is needed” and the Knights will be focusing on small things around mechanics, individual growth and working together to generate more wins. Entering Christie’s third season as head coach and grateful to be playing, the Knights have a large group of seniors including Teagan Talbot McQueen, Sara Victor, Julia Hacker, Alex Kruzel, Laura Millard and Kate Liston who have been working hard to rebuild the Fairview program for the past several years. The team wants to send those seniors out with a bang.
Coach: Dawn Gaffin
The Scorecard: Legacy softball graduated some top notch players last year but returns a talented young group that got plenty of varsity experience in 2019. Ranking fifth in the CHSAANow.com preseason poll, the Lightning will rely on a core of juniors — Elena Free, Janessa Esquibel, Kendall Aragon, Alex Genty, Leah Connor and Reese Mansur — to step up and lead the way. Gaffin, who has been coaching since softball first started in Colorado in 1987, said this year’s Legacy group is very coachable and many of the players have two years of state tournament experience despite being young. The Lightning have won 18 or more games in each of the past three seasons and will be playing for a return to the Class 5A state tournament again in 2020.
Coach: Jason Reese
The Scorecard: Now in the team’s second year under Reese, the Coyotes expect to be a more experienced team this season and potentially have a trio of freshmen to come in and contribute immediately. Backed by a solid defense, Monarch’s strength will be a pitching staff led by juniors Jaidyn Studebaker and Tara Boehmler. Studebaker (1.753 OPS), catcher Trish Leins (1.849 OPS) and shortstop Ashton Osswald (1.300 OPS) were all voted all-conference in 2019 and will pace the Coyotes lineup. Reese said he’s expecting the past couple seasons’ youth movement to finally pay off for Monarch and the Coyotes have much higher expectations in the Front Range League win column after going 2-9 in conference play last fall.
NOTE: Under the new alignment, the northern Class 4A teams have been reconfigured into all new conferences.
A whole new ball game: All three of the top-ranked Class 4A teams in the CHSAANow.com preseason poll — No. 1 Holy Family, No. 2 Erie, No. 3 Silver Creek — are in the new NCAA conference. No. 6 Mead is also in the NCAA… In Erie and Holy Family, the NCAA conference also now includes the last two 4A state champions… In the new Longs Peak League, Frederick and Niwot will be separated from their traditional conference rivals in the old Tri-Valley and Northern leagues, respectively… Last season, Erie had three of the top six home run hitters in Class 4A who had a combined 39 long balls but all graduated… Between Holy Family and Erie, the two “Tigers” teams had three of the top eight 4A pitchers in terms of ERA and all three are back… Holy Family catcher Abby Edwards led all of 4A with a .444 caught stealing percentage in 2019. Skyline’s Tiffani Mein (.389) was third and Silver Creek’s Ashley Gaccetta (.222) was sixth, and all three players return for 2020.
Longs Peak League
Coach: Roger Dufour
The Scorecard: Losing their catcher and pitcher — Bella Hewitt and Haley Howell — to injuries early last season made the rest of the 2019 very difficult for the Warriors. Both players are back and the Frederick girls expect to be more competitive this fall despite moving to a new league that is full of quality pitching. With senior University of Northern Colorado commit Peyton Gale (1.569 OPS) leading the way at third base, the Warriors lineup should be much more potent this season with a good mix of returning starters back to put runs on the scoreboard.
Coach: Bobby Matthews
The Scorecard: The Cougars finished with a 14-12 record last fall and Matthews said they’re looking to build off that this season while remaining highly competitive. He also believes the team’s new additions are solid and will add to a returning core that includes Ayva McComas (SS), Jasmine Aldama (3B), Hannah Bassett (1B) and Zoie Chociej (C/LF) among others. Expecting other players like freshmen Autumn Rutherford (CF/SS/C) and Anne Booth (P), as well as senior Dulce Amaya (C/LF), Matthews thinks the Cougars have what they need to make some noise in Class 4A this season.
Coach: Jason Crispin
The Scorecard: Centaurus softball played a junior varsity schedule in 2019 because they did not have the numbers to field a varsity team but the Warriors are back in the varsity mix this fall. Fourth-year head coach Jason Crispin said the players are excited for the opportunity to grow the program and returns a core of players that works well together and improved over last fall and summer. Emma Caile (3B), Ellie Jahn (SS/CF), Paige Morton (1B), Lily Wright (OF/C), Sofia Christoff (SS/OF), Ella Cromie (C) and Sydney Wilcox (OF) are all returning as starters from the 2019 campaign.
Coach: Vanessa Smith
The Scorecard: The reigning Class 4A state champions enter the season at No. 2 in the CHSAANow.com preseason poll after graduating some heavy hitters from a potent 2019 lineup. While a rebuilding year would be the common expectation in such a situation, Smith said this young Tigers squad has adopted the motto “We are not done” and plans to hit the season ready to compete. Juniors Ashlee Lovett (10 SB) and Emma Osbourne (1.157 OPS) will be key returners, as will junior Paige Gilbert and sophomore Jaiselyn Maddox-Hernandez. This young and eager team will be tested throughout a schedule that includes some of the top 5A clubs on top of a new league gauntlet that features several 4A contenders. Smith thinks the Tigers are ready for the challenge.
Holy Family Tigers
Coach: Moriah Nguyen
The Scorecard: The Tigers have a new coach after reaching the state semifinals in 2019. Nguyen, a Holy Family softball alumnus, and the 2018 state champions also enter the season as Class 4A’s No. 1-ranked team in the CHSAANow.com coaches poll. In the new NCAA conference that includes several of the state’s best teams, the Tigers are excited to attack their schedule with returning pitchers like junior Cassidy Chvatal (2.48 ERA) and senior Jaelen Giron (1.77 ERA), as well as hitters like senior Jenna Pfenning (1.294 OPS) and junior Abby Edwards (1.431 OPS). The Tigers return the bulk of last year’s club and with that experience in hand, Nguyen says they’re ready to put in the extra work in order to accomplish their goal of winning a state title in 2020.
Coach: Kelsey Walters
The Scorecard: The Trojans graduated several key seniors last year but have been pleasantly surprised by some incoming talent and several other returning players who have stepped up as leaders on the team. Walters said she expects that leadership to be a strength as the Trojans, who went 12-11 last season, enter a powerful new conference. They’ll look to returning starters like Kayla Gumeson (OF/UT), Ala Tulley (2B), Megan Leick (3B/UT), Courtney Wood (OF/P) and Christine D’Epagnier (OF) to pace the team early on while some promising up-and-coming underclassmen get up to speed for a club that is eager to show what it can do in 2020.
Coach: Amanda Macaluso
The Scorecard: In 2019, the Mavericks went down to Pueblo and won a regional tournament to qualify for state for the first time since 2015. After also posting the best record in school history, the Mavericks are ready to pick up where they left off with a talented group of experienced returners. That group includes last year’s Tri-Valley League strikeouts leader, sophomore Joslynn Veltien (3.15 ERA), as well as fellow BoCoPreps.com all-region honorable mention players junior Claire Adams and senior Veronica Elsis. Returning captain and all-conference second baseman Tayler Brown will help guide the Mavericks into a the new challenges they will face in the loaded NCAA conference as preseason No. 6 in Class 4A.
Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Ryan Beavers
The Scorecard: The Raptors won the Northern League title and advanced to the semifinals at state last season. While the Raptors graduated some notable seniors, they also return a large portion of last year’s club including elite senior pitcher Maddie Kuehl, who posted a 1.56 ERA with 225 strikeouts in 130.1 innings last season. With other talented returners like Morgan Suess, MacKenzie Hunt, Jordan Fisher, Isabelle Martinez, Delaney Granger, Ashley Gaccetta, Jordan Dillow and Talyn Fordham, it’s no wonder the Raptors enter the 2020 campaign ranked No. 3 in Class 4A by the CHSAANow.com poll. With Kuehl in the circle to anchor a lineup that posted an overall 1.018 OPS in 2019, the Raptors should be a state title contender once again this fall.
Coach: Pam Arnold
The Scorecard: The Falcons took a huge step forward in 2019, finishing with an 8-15 record after not winning a single game the previous season. “We hope to build on this season as we did last year, keeping a focus on our championship mindset and what that means to us and keeping and working on the process of fundamentals and teamwork,” Arnold said. The Falcons return strong senior and junior classes that will be bolstered by sophomores like Clara McNally, Tiffani Mein and Alexandra Kennedy, each of whom finished with an OPS around 1.000 last fall. Arnold stressed that the Falcons are focused on personal growth and continued improvement, and the pieces appear to be there in order to make both happen.
Colorado 7 League
Coach: Courtney Geib
The Scorecard: After a 2019 season in which Boulder went 5-16, the Panthers return a tight-knit group of upperclassmen who will be joined by some exciting new players in 2020. Geib said her team’s defense looks strong and its offense has steadily improved over the last couple of years with the goal of maintaining consistency this season. The Panthers’ battery is still undetermined and with those positions up for grabs, the Panthers will look to veteran players like Olivia Malmberg (1B/OF), Julia Shiesley (OF), Sailor Sorensen (SS/OF), Ella Johnson (2B/SS) and Ire Levitt (SS/OF) to drive the team in the early going.
Denver Metro League
NOTE: Under the new alignment, the Denver Metro League will have many familiar teams from last year’s District 1 including Faith Christian, Jefferson, Peak to Peak, Platte Canyon, Sheridan and The Academy. This year’s league will also include Denver West, which was placed down by the CHSAA CLOC, Lutheran, Manual and Strive Prep-Smart.
Numbers game: Last season, Peak to Peak had three players — Jamie Rader, Alyssa Alvarez and Alena Carpenter — who batted over .400 and drove in 20 or more runs. All three of those players are returning for the 2020 season.
Peak to Peak Pumas
Coach: Brandin Becher
The Scorecard: Posting a 12-12 record and advancing to the regional round, the Peak to Peak girls had a solid season in 2019. With a solid returning core that includes players like Jamie Rader, Alyssa Alvarez, Paige Putthoff and Audrey Wilcox, Becher said the Pumas fully expect to be in contention for a league title and a spot at the state tournament in 2020. Becher also expects Peak to Peak to have the kind of depth that will give the team flexibility in its lineup and in the field, and should have a good mix of power and speed in the lineup. This is a more experienced Peak to Peak group than in years past and the Pumas intend to take full advantage of that.
NOTE: This season’s Patriot League is essentially the same teams that were in District 3 last season plus Resurrection Christian.
Teams and trends: Brush, Eaton, Lyons, Platte Valley, Resurrection Christian, Sterling, Strasburg, University, Valley. When Sterling failed to reach the Class 3A state championship game last season, it snapped a streak of seven straight years the team had either won or finished runner-up in 3A. Sterling was beaten in the 2019 state semifinals by conference rival Brush, which went on to lose in the championship game to another Patriot League team in University.
2019 league leaders: BA: Remington Ross, Eaton, .720; Hits: Kyra McFarland, University, 60; HR: Kyra McFarland, University, 12; RBI: Jennifer Jarnagin, Eaton, 52*; SB: Hannah Paton, Lyons, 65; SLG: Rylyn Nelson, Sterling, 1.395; W: Kayla Kingsley, University, 16*; ERA: Kayla Kingsley, University, 2.99*; K: Kierston Bohler, Sterling, 131.
Numbers game: Now-graduated Lyons player Hannah Paton’s 65 stolen bases were not only the most in the conference last fall season, they were also the second most in Colorado to Rifle’s Delaney Phillips (66).
* Projected 2019 returning player.
Coach: Julie Vasquez
The Scorecard: With an alumnus taking over in the form of Vasquez, the Lions will have a new coach who said she is looking forward to building the Lyons softball program for years to come. Vasquez takes over a dugout that has a hard-working group and is eager to win a game at state, something Lyons hasn’t done in over a decade. But the Lions got off to a hot start last season and showed signs of a breakthrough with a 14-12 finish. Senior Hannah Schweiger (1.478 OPS) and sophomore Brooklyn Enny (five home runs) are back alongside pitchers Gylian Hay and Shantel Koester, so the Lions have a solid core that has potential to be a tough team in 2020.
Point me to the postseason
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the regular season has been reduced to 16 games. In lieu of regional tournaments, 16 teams from each classification will qualify through the CHSAA Seeding Index for a one-day state tournament at Aurora Sports Park held on Saturday, Oct. 10.
Bringing it home: recent state champions
2019 — Columbine (5A), Erie (4A), University (3A)
2018 — Legend (5A), Holy Family (4A), Strasburg (3A)
2017 — Legend (5A), Mountain View (4A), Strasburg (3A)
2016 — Cherokee Trail (5A), Valor Christian (4A), Rocky Ford (3A)
2015 — Mountain Range (5A), Valor Christian (4A), Strasburg (3A)
2014 — Grandview (5A), Valor Christian (4A), La Junta (3A)
2013 — Legacy (5A), Wheat Ridge (4A), Strasburg (3A)