League and team outlook

Class 5A
Front Range League
Teams and trends: Broomfield, Fairview, Fort Collins, Fossil Ridge, Horizon, Legacy, Loveland, Monarch, Mountain Range, Poudre, Rocky Mountain. Five different teams — Broomfield, Fossil Ridge, Loveland, Legacy, Horizon — have won the FRL championship outright or have shared the conference title in the past seven years. Horizon and Broomfield each finished atop the league standings last year with nine wins in 10 conference games.
2020 league leaders: Broomfield’s Hadlee Reichert, now graduated, led the league with 28 RBIs. Fellow-graduate Kenzi Garner of Broomfield had 27. … Broomfield’s Breanna Fiala had a 1.50 ERA in 32 2/3 innings. Fossil Ridge’s Nikki McGaffin led the league with 16 wins and 171 strikeouts. … Former Poudre player Brooke Bohlender led the league with a .614 batting average. Rocky Mountain’s Kaia Cobb was second at .564 and Legacy’s Reese Mansur was third at .562. … Former Horizon player Rylee Crouch had a 1.020 slugging percentage, followed by Poudre’s Abby Larson (1.018) and Fort Collins’ Bradie Strang (1.000).
Numbers game: Seven players had double-digit steals in the Front Range League last season. Rocky Mountain’s Kaia Cobb had 22 and was followed by Legacy 2020 juniors Reese Mansur and Kendall Aragon with 13. Broomfield’s Bryna Kapelke, now graduated, also had 13.

Broomfield Eagles
Coach: Kale Gilmore
The Scorecard: The Eagles went 16-2 last season and reached the Class 5A state quarterfinals before getting ousted by eventual state runner-up Cherokee Trail. This fall, they return seven varsity players, including standout pitcher Breanna Fiala. Fiala, who is still just a junior, had a 1.50 ERA in 32 2/3 innings last season. She struck out 32 and walked just five. Other returnees include outfielder Elizabeth Thorngren, infielder Shannon Jones, pitcher/outfielder Maycee Bricker, outfielder Izabella Mikelson, infielder Emmie Meeks and catcher Caylie Eiguren. Others to watch, meanwhile, include shortstop Charley Pitrat and infielder Arreana Rivera. Gilmore said his team is looking to get back into the state tournament behind strong pitching and defense. Broomfield was ranked fifth in the preseason coaches poll.

Fairview Knights
Coach: Miranda Christie
The Scorecard: Under Christie, now in her sixth season in charge, the Knights are looking for more growth in the program after a two-win season in 2020. Center fielder Alex Kruzel returns after hitting four home runs and slugging .875 last year, per her coach. Also back is junior shortstop Julia Hacker, who stole six bases, and sophomore pitcher/second baseman Julia Zemmelman. Others to keep an eye out for the Knights, meanwhile, include senior first baseman Annika Spilde, senior catcher Riya Burk and sophomore third baseman Roxie Alberts. Last year, Fairview started 2-1 before losing its final 13 games.

Legacy Lightning
Coach: Dawn Gaffin
The Scorecard: Gaffin has coached every year since high school softball’s inception in Colorado in 1987 with the last 22 seasons coming at Legacy. The committed coach has been known to set expectations high, and this year is no different as she aims to have her team work “towards another championship season.” She returns a pair of standout outfielders in Reese Mansur and Kendall Aragon, who hit .562 and .491, respectively in 2020. Also back is senior Janessa Esquibel, who had a 4.02 ERA in 31 1/3 innings in the circle last fall. Other returnees include senior outfielder Alex Genty, senior outfielder/first baseman Elena Free, senior infielder Leah Connor, senior Chloe Castaneda, and junior infielders Khloe Kubitschek and Samantha Bocis. Those to watch out for are sophomores Jordyn Heronimus, Kate Walker, Parker Allshouse and McKenna Proctor. In the CHSAA coaches preseason poll, Legacy was ranked 10th in 5A.

Monarch Coyotes
Coach: Jason Reese
The Scorecard: Jaidyn Studebaker returns for her senior season after she was the only Coyotes’ player to hit over .400 a season ago. Studebaker hit .462 and had a fielding percentage of .915. She’ll be joined by senior catcher/infielder Keira Sager, who hit .365 and had a .925 fielding percentage, and senior pitcher/infielder Tara Boehmler. “With seven returning starters … Monarch is set for a breakthrough year,” said Reese, who is in his third year at the helm. “Playing cleanly will be key to reversing the results of last year’s close contests.” This year, Reese said Studebaker and Boehmler will share pitching duties and Sager will split time behind home plate and in the middle of the infield. Others to keep an eye out for are junior first baseman/third baseman Keara Cunningham and junior centerfielder Kate Cozzens. Then there’s this positive note for the program: Reese said his team has doubled in size since he took over three years ago, up from 16 to 32 players.

Class 4A
Longs Peak League
Teams and trends: Berthoud, Fort Morgan Frederick, Mountain View, Niwot, Northridge, Riverdale Ridge, Roosevelt, Severance, Thompson Valley. Riverdale Ridge won the inaugural league title last fall with a 7-1 record. Frederick and Roosevelt were right behind at 6-2.
2020 league leaders: Berthoud’s Gracie Flores led the league with a .600 batting average and an on-base percentage of .649. Niwot’s Ayva McComas had the best slugging percentage at 1.039. … Former Mountain View player Bailey Carlson had seven home runs. Roosevelt’s Maerron Lovern had 36 RBIs with former Frederick star Peyton Gale in second with 29. … Former Riverdale Ridge pitcher Makenna Meyer led the league with a 1.36 ERA in 87 1/3 innings. … Severance’s Natalia Puchino had 156 strikeouts and Roosevelt’s Malaya Coleman had the most wins on the mound with 12.
Numbers game: Frederick had the most stolen bases in the league with 76, which was ninth-most in 4A. Then-freshman Makenzie Sais led the team with 28 stolen bases in 28 attempts. Elli Clapp was 15 of 16 in steal attempts, while former player Peyton Gale was a perfect 13-of-13. Frederick was caught stealing just twice.

FREDERICK, CO - Sept. 22, 2020: ...
Daily Camera file photo
Frederick’s Haley Howell

Frederick High School
Coach: Roger Dufour
The Scorecard: In his 27th season as a softball coach, Dufour is hoping to make another step with Frederick after the program took second in league and reached a condensed 4A state postseason field in 2020. Frederick, ranked just outside the Top 10 in the 4A preseason coaches poll, graduated all-region player Peyton Gale, who is committed to Northern Colorado. But Dufour’s squad brings back a strong core from last fall, anyway. Junior pitcher Haley Howell is back after she went 9-4 on the mound a season ago, and so is sophomore outfielder Makenzie Sais after she hit .391 and stole 28 bases as a freshman. Other returners include senior outfielder Kyla Mares, senior shortstop Ali Davis, senior catcher Bella Hewitt, senior second baseman Elli Clapp and senior outfielder Jazmin Garcia. Elsewhere, freshman third baseman Avery Salisbury and sophomore first baseman Tatum Ross are among newcomers to keep an eye out for.

Niwot Cougars
Coach: Bobby Matthews
The Scorecard: Ayva McComas may be one of the most underrated players in the area. Last year as a junior, the Niwot standout had a .549 batting average and led the league with a 1.038 slugging percentage. She hit safely in all but one game. She’ll be joined by returnees in sophomores Anne Booth and Autumn Rutherford, who as freshmen hit .457 and .442, respectively. Some others back are senior Jasmine Aldama, senior Hannah Bassett, junior Zoie Chociej and junior Josephine Gravelle.  Matthews said the numbers in the program are up for the Cougars this season after going 7-9 a year ago. The Cougars hit .326 as a team a year ago and owned a collective 5.66 ERA.

Teams and trends: Centaurus, Erie, Greeley Central, Greeley West, Holy Family, Longmont, Mead, Silver Creek, Skyline, Windsor. Holy Family won the league en route to its second state championship in three seasons. The league championship was decided on the final day of the regular season with the Tigers beating Silver Creek in 10 innings. The league had three — Holy Family, Mead and Silver Creek — of the final eight teams in the 4A postseason. Holy Family beat Mead in the finals.
2020 league leaders: Former Silver Creek star Maddie Kuehl led the league with eight home runs, a 1.115 slugging percentage and 148 strikeouts on the mound. … Longmont’s Megan Leick led the league with a .600 batting average and a .682 on-base percentage. … Holy Family’s Abby Edwards had 32 RBIs, followed by teammate Ava Kuszak with 30. … Former Holy Family pitcher Cassidy Chvatal and Mead’s Joslynn Veltien led the league with 14 wins on the mound.
Numbers game: Holy Family and Longmont went one-two in the league in batting average with the Tigers hitting .422 and the Trojans at .411. However, the two were on opposite sides of the conference in home runs with the Tigers hitting 27 in 20 games and the Trojans hitting just two in 16 games.

Centaurus Warriors
Coach: Micci Reed
The Scorecard: The Warriors returned to varsity competition last season after a year of JV-only play in 2019, going 2-14. And this year they have a new head coach in Reed, who takes over for Jason Crispin. The first-year coach inherits a core led by seniors Paige Morton and Lily Wright. Morton led the team in batting average last season, hitting .389 with a team-high 12 RBIs. Wright had two hits and two RBIs. Said Reed: “We have a young team. The freshmen look strong. I’m looking forward to watching our development.”

Erie Tigers
Coach: Vanessa Smith
The Scorecard: The Tigers return a strong core from last season in which they finished 9-7 and just missed the condensed postseason field. With no seniors on roster in 2020, now-seniors Ashlee Lovett, Emma Osborne and Paige Gilbert lead the returnees. Lovett, who is an outfielder/shortstop, hit .453 with 24 hits in 53 at-bats. Osborne, a center fielder, hit .426, and outfielder/first baseman Gilbert hit .371 with a team-leading 24 RBIs and three home runs. Others who are back include junior infielder/catcher Jaiselyn Maddox-Hernandez, sophomore pitcher Matix Hull, sophomore pitcher Grace Sackett, sophomore shortstop/third baseman Addie Osborne, sophomore utility Gabby Gricius, junior second baseman/outfielder Mia Johnston-Martinez and sophomore first baseman Natalynn Lundeen. Said Smith: “They are looking to get better every game and come together as one team to set the standard of elite softball and make a run for the state title.” Erie is ranked sixth in the preseason 4A coaches poll.

Holy Family Tigers
Coach: Moriah Nguyen
The Scorecard: The Tigers, ranked first in the 4A preseason coaches poll, raced through their league schedule last year, then the postseason, and eventually won their second state championship in three years. Returning from that team are Division-I commits Abby Edwards (Boise State) and shortstop Ava Kuszak (Wisconsin). Edwards, who is also arguably the top defensive catcher in the state, hit .526 with a league-leading 32 RBIs with four homers. Kuszak hit .424 with 30 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. Last month, Kuszak was part of the Nebraska Gold 18s team that won the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championship. Also back is Annika Manzanares, a senior outfielder/infielder who hit .443 with 22 RBIs and four homers last year. Expect others to emerge for the Tigers as well. Sophomore outfielder Jordan Peterson, sophomore infielder/pitcher Kaylee McDonald, sophomore outfielder Essynce Contreraz and freshman outfielder/pitcher Isabella Arroyo are among those on the radar.

Longmont Trojans
Coach: Kailee Bauer
The Scorecard: Bauer takes over as coach for the Trojans after the program went 7-9 and 3-6 in league. To help her, she has a standout player in Megan Leick, who the coach listed as a third baseman and pitcher. Last fall, Leick hit .600 with 21 hits in 35 at-bats. She drove in 11 runs and had two homers. She also went 3-3 on the mound and tossed 33 innings. Another name to watch will be sophomore catcher Ruby Anderson. She hit .294 in 26 plate appearances as a freshman last season. Said Bauer: “A goal of mine is to create an environment where all of my athletes value the sport and grow in their own individual way.”

AURORA, CO -October 10, 2020: Maddox ...
Daily Camera file photo
Mead’s Maddox Boston

Mead Mavericks
Coach: Amanda Macaluso
The Scorecard: The Mavericks, ranked second in the preseason poll, reached the title game last season and now return a number of contributors from that squad. Junior right-handed pitcher Joslynn Veltien returns after proving to be one of the best in 2020. She had a 2.68 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 94 innings. Senior Emily Sauvageau returns after she raised her batting average from .327 as a sophomore to .481 last year. Sauvageau, senior Claire Adams and junior Katelyn Wiescamp each homered five times for the Mavs’ high-octane offense and should lead the bats again. Maddox Boston, meanwhile, rounds out the returnees after scoring 24 runs in 2020. Others to watch for Mead include freshman catcher/utility Nikki Ward, junior utility Ellie Youngs, and junior utility Izzy Campbell. Said Macaluso: “Our goal is to contend for the state title again this year and continue to grow the experience of the program.”

Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Ryan Beavers
The Scorecard: The Raptors have a strong, ongoing postseason tradition going. Beavers said the program has reached the postseason in 14 straight years, 11 consecutive which have gone on to the state tournament. So, he noted, “expectations are always high at Silver Creek.” To keep it going, the Raptors must fill in the large voids left by graduated seniors MacKenzie Hunt and player of the year and Texas Tech’s Maddie Kuehl. Returning from last year’s quarterfinalist is talented junior shortstop/outfielder Isabelle Martinez, who was an all-league selection after hitting .462. Other returners include senior catcher/second baseman Sydney Casas, senior outfielder Jordan Fisher, junior pitcher Talyn Fordham, senior catcher/third baseman Ashley Gaccetta, junior outfielder/first baseman Alexa Gorr, junior first baseman/third baseman Delaney Granger, junior outfielder/first baseman Grace LaCrosse and senior second baseman/outfielder Chloe Wilson. Among those to look out for is sophomore infielder/outfielder Kelly Young. The Raptors are ranked fifth in the preseason coaches poll.

Skyline Falcons
Coach: Pam Arnold
The Scorecard: The Falcons won four of their first five games last season, lost seven of their nine league games, and finished 8-8. Returning this year are a pair of 2020 standout freshmen in Hannah Johnson and Sylvia Santos. Each hit above .420 a year ago and both were tied for the team lead in RBIs with 14. Among other returnees are junior Clara McNally, junior Tiffani Mein, senior Tehya Salomon and senior Tara Lingren. Others to look out for are Mayra Salomon and Sidney McNally. Said Arnold: “We will continue to grow as a program and build with our positive and championship mindset. Our goals are to continue to be competitive with the teams in our league by focusing on the process of developing as a team.”

Colorado League
Teams and trends: Arvada, Aurora Central, Boulder, Englewood, Fort Lupton, Skyview, Thornton, Weld Central. Weld Central and Fort Lupton tied atop the league standings last year at 11-1. The Panthers, who joined the league from the FRL after the 2017 season, finished 5-7 in league in 2020. They’d won just two total in their first two seasons in the Colorado League.
2020 league leaders: Former Weld Central player Cassidy McQuiston hit .692 and had a slugging percentage of 1.154. She and Aurora Central’s Lawrencia Randle each hit three homers. Fort Lupton’s Rozzie Mendoza drove in 34 runs and former Thornton player Thalia Guardiola had 28 stolen bases. … Fort Lupton’s Taylor Fells had a 1.39 ERA in 75 1/3 innings pitched and had 14 wins on the mound. Randle had 164 strikeouts.
Numbers game: Boulder was fourth in the league in batting average and third in extra-base hits last fall. The Panthers hit .344 as a team, and of its 146 hits, 41 went for extra bases.

Boulder Panthers
Coach: Courtney Geib
The Scorecard: The Panthers won six games last year, five of them coming in league where they’d won just one in each of the previous two seasons. Fifth-year coach Geib said they’re looking to “build on last season’s successes with the help of a large freshman class, several of whom will make an immediate impact. We will have a solid defense and hope to continue improving our team batting average.” Those to watch out for include senior shortstop/second baseman Ella Johnson, who hit .415 last season and had the team’s only homer, as well as senior utility Irë Levitt and senior catcher/utility Mara Nguyen. Other rising talents include freshmen Riley Bowman (pitcher/utility) and Ellie Jones (catcher/infielder).

Class 3A
Denver Metro League
Teams and trends: Denver West, Faith Christian, Jefferson, Lutheran, Manual, Peak to Peak, Platte Canyon, Sheridan, STRIVE Prep, The Academy. The league was formed last year with former District 1 teams Faith Christian, Jefferson, Peak to Peak, Platte Canyon and The Academy. Joining them were Denver Christian, Lutheran and STRIVE Prep. Last year, Lutheran won the league title.
2020 league leaders: With at least 40 plate appearances, former Peak to Peak standouts Alyssa Alvarez and Jamie Rader led the league in batting average, hitting .632 and .625, respectively. Alvarez also led in slugging at 1.079 and each of them were tied atop the league with 24 RBIs. … Former Lutheran pitcher Alyssa Ponich had a 1.91 ERA in 51 1/3 frames and led the league with 10 wins. Former The Academy’s pitcher Haylee Bowen had 74 Ks.
Numbers game: Alvarez and Rader had impeccable 2020 seasons. Pretty similar in terms of numbers, too. Alvarez hit .632 with 24 RBIs and 30 runs scored. She had four games where she drove in at least four runs. Rader, like Alvarez, was in the state’s top 25 in batting average at .625, also had 24 RBIs and reached safely in 15 of her 16 games.

Peak to Peak Pumas
Coach: Brandin Becher
The Scorecard: The Pumas said goodbye to stars Alyssa Alvarez and Jamie Rader, who both hit above .620 in their senior seasons. But eighth-year coach Becher believes his team can still contend in the league — after finishing second in it last year — backed by a good bit of returning talent this fall. For starters, junior Alena Carpenter hit .452, homered and drove in 20 runs last year. Sophomore Kelsey O’Dowd hit .543 in her high school debut season and drove in 15. Other returnees include seniors Audrey Wilcox and Paige Putthoff, junior Leah Legeer, and sophomores Peyton Larsen, Kayla Kerrane, Marley Stone and Hailey Weintraub. Other rising talents include freshmen Sydney Cusack, Maggie Wallis and Dagny West.

Patriot League
Teams and trends: Brush, Eaton, Lyons, Platte Valley, Resurrection Christian, Sterling, Strasburg, University, Valley. Teams in the league have been in the 3A state championship for more than a decade straight. Strasburg went for seven straight years before having that snapped in 2019 — University won the title that year. Last fall, meanwhile, Eaton won the state title after winning the league.
2020 league leaders: Lyons’ Brooklyn Enny and former Brush player Grace Georgieu each hit .613. Georgieu slugged 1.097, and she and former Lyons catcher Hannah Schweiger each hit six home runs. … Enny led the league with 43 RBIs, nine more than second-place Georgieu. … Eaton’s Sadie Ross had a 1.55 ERA in 86 innings. She had 14 wins and 116 strikeouts.
Numbers game: Enny had hits in all but two games and had multiple hits in 14 of her 18 games last fall. She finished the season with 19 extra-base hits and as many homers as strikeouts (three).

Lyons Lions
Coach: Julie Vasquez
The Scorecard: Vasquez had a nice debut season as coach for the Lions, leading them further than the program has gone in two decades before bowing out in the state quarterfinals. This year, Lyons will be without 2020 standouts in catcher Hannah Schweiger, ace pitcher Shantel Koester and Jazmyn Enny, all of whom graduated this past year. But they do return a flat-out star in Brooklyn Enny, who hit .613 with 38 hits and 43 RBIs in 62 at-bats. Also back is junior third baseman Raeana Ortiz, who hit .491 with 19 RBIs. Vasquez said of Ortiz, “nothing gets by her at third base. Nothing.” Another returner is senior Gylian Hay, who had a 1.94 ERA in 21 2/3 innings last season. Hay allowed just six earned runs on 17 hits, while striking out 19 and walking just one. Lyons was ranked ninth in the 3A preseason coaches poll.

Bringing it home: recent state champions
2020 — Fossil Ridge (5A), Holy Family (4A), Eaton (3A)
2019 — Columbine (5A), Erie (4A), University (3A)
2018 — Legend (5A), Holy Family (4A), Strasburg (3A)
2017 — Legend (5A), Mountain View (4A), Strasburg (3A)

LONGMONT, CO - Sept. 3, 2020: ...
Daily Camera file photo
Skyline’s Tiffani Mein