Perfect match: Star softball duo has Holy Family again within reach of title

Freshman pitcher Isabella Arroyo and senior catcher Abby Edwards leading the Tigers

BROOMFIELD, CO - OCTOBER 19:Holy Family High School's Isabella Arroyo (No. 2) pitches during a scrimmage against Chatfield High School in Broomfield on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
BROOMFIELD, CO – OCTOBER 19:Holy Family High School’s Isabella Arroyo (No. 2) pitches during a scrimmage against Chatfield High School in Broomfield on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

BROOMFIELD — A pitching wunderkind, with a veteran catcher instrumental in guidance.

It’s difficult to imagine how the transition of the guard on the mound for Holy Family could have gone any smoother following its state championship run a year ago.

Heading into the Class 4A tournament this weekend, the top-seeded Tigers will again deploy one of the best pitchers in the tournament in freshman Isabella Arroyo along with arguably the top catcher in the state, Abby Edwards.

BROOMFIELD, CO – OCTOBER 19:Holy Family High School’s Abby Edwards (No. 5) catches the ball during a scrimmage against Chatfield High School in Broomfield on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

Through Arroyo’s first 15 appearances on the mound in high school, she’s unbeaten as the team ace (13-0) — a role that was occupied by grad Cassidy Chvatal a year ago as she helped the Tigers finish off Mead in the finals before being named CHSAA 4A player of the year.

Following a joint practice with 5A postseason team Chatfield Tuesday evening, the young pitcher, who has proven unshaken in the spotlight to this point, spoke about her masterful debut season.

She was quick to point out how it couldn’t have been the same without Edwards in the frame.

“When I first came in, I was kind of scared. Like, ‘Who is going to be my catcher?’, because you know, catchers and pitchers need to have that strong relationship,” Arroyo said. “And then Abby has just been a great teammate. She always helps me when I’m struggling. She finds my mistakes and is always helping me to get better.”

The freshman touts a 1.83 ERA and has 111 strikeouts in 84 1/3 innings.

Then there’s this: After allowing 11 earned runs in her first 20 1/3 innings, she’s given up just 11 more in her next 64 frames.

“Coming in as a freshman she has done a fantastic job for us,” coach Moriah Nguyen said. “And I think Abby has a lot to do with that. She is a senior, a big leader for our team. She really helps Izzy keep her confidence and keep throwing strikes and doing what she does best in games. They’re really a great duo.”

Edwards, who is committed to Boise State, is one of just one of three returning players from the 2020 Tigers. The others being Ava Kuszak, who is going to Wisconsin, and Annika Manzanares, who is committed to Wayne State.

This fall, all three of them hit over .475 and drove in more than 20 runs, helping propel the Tigers to a 21-4 record and their fourth straight league title.

Manzanares led the way, hitting .507 with eight homers and 43 RBIs. Kuszak hit .507 and drove in 25, while Edwards was at .478 with 23 driven in.

The conclusion of each of the trio’s high school softball careers will arrive either Friday or Saturday. And while second-year coach Nguyen said the Tigers don’t like to think of their upcoming postseason trip as a defense of their title, with so many new faces in the fold — adding to the program’s evolving legacy with a chance to win its third title in four years is something not lost, either.

“You see that number on that,” Kuszak said, pointing at the team’s outfield wall that displays the program’s three championship years — 2006 in 3A, 2018 and 2020 in 4A. Adding, “I wish I had 2018, ’19, and ’20 and ’21. Everyone wants that win. I think all our seniors, just going out. It’s also more just important how we want our season to end. We know that’s our goal. And especially being so young it’d be an amazing goal to reach.”

Holy Family will be joined in the 4A field by local teams Erie, Mead and Frederick.

The Tigers face Palmer Ridge in the 1-16 match Friday morning with the winner facing No. 8 Conifer or the ninth-seeded Mavs in the afternoon quarterfinals. Erie, ranked third, begins with No. 14 Wheat Ridge, and Frederick is the underdog in the 5-12 matchup against Ponderosa.

In 5A, No. 5 Legacy faces No. 12 Broomfield in a rare Round 1 Front Range League matchup. In 3A, Peak to Peak is 15th and will face No. 2 Eaton.