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Softball: Holy Family’s bats come alive late to sneak past Erie

HFHS wins yet another battle between the highly ranked teams


BROOMFIELD — Trailing by two runs in the fifth inning on Tuesday afternoon, Class 4A No. 3-ranked Holy Family softball kept its cool to construct a late inning comeback and defeat No. 2 Erie, 4-3.

One year after capturing the 2020 state title, an encore is looking more and more within grasp for Holy Family, which won its ninth consecutive game on Tuesday. Head coach Moriah Nguyen’s Tigers improved to 18-3 and a perfect 8-0 in the Northern Colorado Athletic Conference. For Erie, the loss dropped head coach Vanessa Smith’s squad to 18-4 and 7-1 in the NCAC.

“It’s a big win for us,” Nguyen said. “I think since the beginning of the season, every win has been pretty big for us. Obviously beating Erie, one of our school rivals, is always a good day for us.”

Hosting an Erie team that came in averaging 11 runs a game, Holy Family freshman Isabella Arroyo tossed all seven innings and induced 16 ground balls in the process. The southpaw said her changeup was able to compensate for a rise ball she struggled to harness.

“It’s unreal that a freshman is coming in here and shutting down some of the top teams that we’ve played,” Nguyen said. “Her relentlessness is beyond what a lot of other freshmen pitchers are.”

Arroyo delivered with the bat, too, when her fifth-inning single got Holy Family’s comeback started. Senior Annika Manzanares brought Arroyo home with an RBI double and Kaylee McDonald delivered a sacrifice fly soon after to tie things at 2-2.

In the sixth inning, Erie went scoreless in the top half and then retired the first two Holy Family batters. Nine-hole hitter Essynce Contreraz came up next and started a two-out rally with a double. Ava Kuszak then muscled an RBI triple to center field which helped remove Erie hurler Matix Hull. After starting the comeback in the fifth inning, Arroyo added an insurance RBI double in the sixth. The clutch hits gave Holy Family a momentum-filled 4-2 lead.

Despite allowing just five hits all afternoon, Hull was soon stuck on the wrong side of the pitcher’s duel.

“We just had to pick each other up and have faith in each other,” Arroyo said. “We knew we could do it.”

Both Arroyo and Nguyen gave plenty of credit to the infield defense. McDonald, in particular, shined with seven assists at second base. With Arroyo in the circle, Nguyen said she knew there would be plenty of ground balls — and the infield delivered.

“My infield is the best, especially K-Mac (who) gets at least 95% of the balls,” Arroyo said. “She’s amazing.”

Holy Family, which came into Tuesday No. 3 in RPI, will be at Elizabeth on Thursday. The Erie Tigers couldn’t improve their No. 5 RPI ranking, but they’ll have another opportunity on Wednesday when they welcome Silver Creek.