The best softball teams don’t often get left out of the state tournaments, but it can certainly be argued that some good teams do on a year-by-year basis. When regional tournaments are part of the equation, a good team can come up empty against another team for myriad reasons, and that unknown is what makes those final qualifying days so intriguing.
In 2020, however, it’s a little more cut-and-dried. With regional play being tossed aside as the CHSAA tries to limit large gatherings of people, the state brackets will be filled by league champions (who get automatic bids in the each of the Class 5A, 4A and 3A field) and another bundle of teams whose resumes are deemed strongest by the CHSAA Seeding Index.
One’s playoff destiny may be made this week as teams claw their way through the final two or three games of the regular slate. And while RPI is only part of the Seeding Index (the CHSAANow.com coaches poll weighs in, too), the top 16 teams in that tangible list have the most likely chance of getting in for each classification.
By classification, here’s peering through a small window at where area teams stand with a heavy-hitting dose of important games still to come this week.
Aurora, here we come: Broomfield, Legacy. Two of the state’s powerhouse teams get to go head-to-head on Tuesday at BHS, but the results won’t knock one or the other from the potential 5A bracket. The Eagles (13-1, 7-1) and Lightning (9-4, 6-1), however, do have the Front Range League title on their minds, and if Broomfield wins Tuesday the Eagles could possibly be Legacy’s biggest cheerleaders on Thursday as LHS plays front-running Horizon (13-1, 7-1). Broomfield also plays Fort Collins (7-6, 3-4).
On pins and needles: None. As it stands, there are no 5A teams within the range of the RPI mark to have a shot at getting in even by winning out.
On to a healthy 2021: Fairview, Monarch.
Aurora, here we come: Mead, Holy Family, Frederick. Mead is facing one of its most monumental weeks of play in the short history of the program, as an undefeated season is attainable. But the Mavericks (14-0, 7-0) have gigantic, savvy opponents in the way this week in Holy Family (11-2, 6-0) and Silver Creek (9-4, 6-0) attempting to nab the newly formed NCAC title at the same time. Holy Family also plays Silver Creek on Saturday, but the Tigers must not overlook Windsor on Thursday. For Frederick in the Longs Peak League, a Tuesday game at Berthoud precedes a fun rivalry game against Niwot; the Warriors likely won’t win league, but their RPI and top-10 status in the polls should be enough to get them to state a year after going an uncharacteristic 6-17.
On pins and needles: Silver Creek, Erie. In the case of both the Tigers and Raptors, who played each other late Monday night at Erie to start three-game weeks, a top-10 ranking in the coaches poll will likely build their state resume. In terms of RPI, however, both squads are on the bubble with SCHS all the way down at No. 18. While the NCAC clearly is the best league in 4A, there may only be room for three teams from the league in a equitable bracket for the seeding committee, which could spell trouble for either of these teams.
On to a healthy 2021: Niwot, Skyline, Longmont, Boulder, Centaurus.
Aurora, here we come: Lyons. Let’s make this clear as mud — the Lions are going to be in the 3A state tournament but in the craziness of 2020, LHS could still end up being a ‘wild-card’ team despite finishing the season with the classification’s top RPI. With four winnable games remaining and already No. 1 in RPI, Lyons (9-3 with a late Monday game not factored) could finish 13-3 and finish third in their Patriot League. That’s because they lost both games to University (No. 5 RPI, No. 2 CHSAANow poll) and a third game to Strasburg. One would hope the Lions would be able to secure a top-8 seed in the tournament given the RPI effect, but it’s tough to say right now.
On pins and needles: None.
On to a healthy 2021: Peak to Peak. A Monday loss against Fort Lupton likely took the Pumas out of any chances to make the 3A field as they sat at RPI No. 21 before the loss. Peak to Peak could easily finish off a nice season with 10 wins, playing Faith Christian in its finale. However, a win against the Eagles won’t do the RPI much good.