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AURORA, CO - Oct. 21, 2021: ...
Broomfield’s Bree Fiala is one of the top-tier pitchers in the Front Range League. (Daily Camera file photo)

League and team outlook

Class 5A/4A

Front Range League

Teams and trends: Brighton, Broomfield, Erie, Fairview, Fort Collins, Fossil Ridge, Horizon, Legacy, Loveland, Monarch, Mountain Range, Poudre, Rocky Mountain, Northglenn and Prairie View. The league added some new teams this year — namely Erie, Brighton, Northglenn and Prairie View — to an already strong group. Horizon has emerged as the top dog for the past two seasons, but four of the well-established FRL teams qualified for the 5A state tournament last year as Erie represented at state in 4A.

2021 league leaders: Batting average — Kendall Aragon, Legacy (.671); Home runs — Hannah Bailey, Rocky Mountain (10); Slugging — Aragon (1.024); RBI — Lilly Mohr, Horizon* (40); Runs — Laynee Case, Loveland* and Aragon (45); OBP — Aragon (.689); Stolen Bases — Kaia Cobb, Rocky Mountain (33); ERA — Nikki McGaffin, Fossil Ridge (1.07); Strikeouts — McGaffin (280); Wins — McGaffin (23).

Numbers game: The FRL of 2021 boasted some of the strongest offenses in Class 5A as six ladies found themselves within the top 15 run-scorers in the state: Loveland’s Case (45 runs), Legacy’s Aragon (45), Horizon’s Allie Medrano (41), Rocky Mountain’s Cobb (39), Fossil Ridge’s Elizabeth Browning (36) and Loveland’s Madi Eslinger (36).

* eligible to return

Broomfield Eagles

Coach: Kale Gilmore

The Scorecard: Excellence has been the norm for Broomfield softball as of late, and 2021 was no different. A 17-11 record took the Eagles all the way to the Class 5A state quarterfinals and this season, they’ll have some strong leaders coming back in senior P Bree Fiala, senior catcher Caylie Eiguren and senior SS/3B Charley Pitrat. They’ll also look for early contributions from some new faces. “We have a very strong freshman class and some talented underclassmen,” Gilmore said. “That, combined with high expectations from some other returners, gives us the expectation to make another run at a state championship.”

Erie Tigers

Coach: Tobin Echohawk

The Scorecard: The Tigers could hardly have asked for a better 2021 season, one that saw them finish with a 23-5 record and a trip to the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state tournament. This year, that ship has a new captain in Echohawk but has a strong returning leader in junior SS Addie Osborne, who led the team offensively last fall with 54 RBI, 40 hits and 37 runs. Early on, Echohawk will also look to junior 2B Gabby Gricius and junior P Grace Sackett for guidance. “What I have seen so far is we are very talented and have the ability to be successful,” she said.

Fairview Knights

Coach: Payton Thomas

The Scorecard: The Knights continue to find ways to sift through a tough conference, and this year, they’ll have a new coach to guide them while dropping to 4A for postseason. Thomas will look for leadership from a few veterans, namely senior SS Julia Hacker, senior CF/LF Jacey Lane and junior C/CF Haven Selby. “While I am very confident in all of the athletes that are a part of this program, it’s going to be a tough season,” Thomas said. “We play in an extremely dominant league, and this year we are choosing to be highly focused on the process of rebuilding this program.”

Legacy Lightning

Coach: John Waller

The Scorecard: The Lightning said goodbye to longtime coach Dawn Gaffin after a 2021 season that saw them finish with a 22-5 record and a trip to the 5A state tournament. They lost seven seniors in the process, including top hitters in Kendall Aragon, Janessa Esquibel and Leah Connor, but will welcome back strong batswomen in Khloe Kubitschek and Alex Genty. With the exit of Esquibel, the Lightning will most likely look to Kubitschek to take over the majority of the mound responsibilities.

Monarch Coyotes

Coach: Jason Reese

The Scorecard: The Coyotes return with a large group of girls from 2021, having only lost five seniors. While Reese admits that 5-18 team still has some inexperience to work through, he’s excited to see their growth as he hopes the incoming freshman class can add some depth. Early on, he’ll lean on senior 3B Keara Cunningham, junior OF Alyssa Adams, junior SS/2B Avery Dehne, senior P/1B Veronica Mireles, senior OF Kate Cozzens and junior C/3B Cozy Kinney to carry the team forward. “As a coach, I am very excited for the direction we are headed as an overall program,” Reese said.

Class 4A/3A

Colorado League

Teams and trends: Adams City, Aurora Central, Boulder, Gateway, Thornton and Skyview. This small league saw pure domination from Boulder in 2021, as the Panthers recorded a 21-4 record and an undefeated league record to take the crown. The league saw a major shift from last season, with only Boulder, Skyview, Thornton and Aurora Central returning to the fold.

2021 league leaders: Batting average — Jetziry Gonzalez Valdez, Aurora Central (.618); Home runs — Sophia Pereira, Boulder* (3); Slugging — Lawrencia Randall, Aurora Central* (.833); RBI — Ellie Jones, Boulder* (35); Runs — Riley Bowman, Boulder (40); OBP — Gonzalez Valdez (.729); Stolen bases — Emma Long, Skyview (20); ERA — Bowman (1.04); Strikeouts — Bowman (221); Wins — Bowman (20)

Numbers game: Bowman, a standout freshman for Boulder, consistently stood out among her competition as she ranked in the top two in Class 5A in ERA, strikeouts and wins. She did not, however, elect to return to Boulder this fall.

Boulder Panthers

Coach: Courtney Geib

The Scorecard: After finding tremendous success with a strong freshman class in 2021, the Panthers will be without their starting ace in Riley Bowman during the upcoming season. They will, however, be returning a few underclassman leaders in sophomores C/INF Ellie Jones and UTIL Sophia Pereira. “We are a very young team and will look a little different this year, but I feel good about the possibilities,” Geib said. “ A lot of players came back this year much improved and eager to continue learning, so I really look forward to our team’s growth over the course of the season.”

Class 4A

Longs Peak League

Teams and trends: Frederick, Mountain View, Niwot, Northridge, Riverdale Ridge, Roosevelt, Severance, Skyline and Thompson Valley. In the league’s first two years of existence, Riverdale Ridge came out on top but saw strong competition from Roosevelt and Frederick for that title. Last year, Severance added its name to the league title contention.

2021 league leaders: Batting average — Jayah Tellez, Northridge* (.651); Home runs — Sienna Mullin (8); Slugging — Tellez (.968); RBI — Haley Howell, Frederick* (51); Runs — Autumn Rutherford, Niwot* (46); OBP — Natalia Puchino, Severance (.687); Stolen bases — Elli Clapp, Frederick (35); ERA — Puchino (1.29); Strikeouts — Puchino (300); Wins — Howell (16)

Numbers game: The LPL proved a pitcher’s paradise for five young ladies, all from different schools, who each recorded more than 10 wins in 2021: Frederick’s Howell (16), Riverdale Ridge’s Aubree Davis (14), Roosevelt’s Malaya Coleman (14), Severance’s Puchino (14) and Niwot’s Anne Boothe (12).

Frederick Golden Eagles

Coach: Roger Dufour

The Scorecard: It seems there’s nowhere to go but up for the Golden Eagles — that, at least, is the trajectory their last few seasons have followed. In 2019, they finished with a 6-17 record. Last year, they not only hit 18 wins, but they qualified for the 4A state tournament in the process. This season, however, they’ll look a little different after losing seven seniors. In the meantime, they’ll look to senior P Haley Howell — last year’s conference player of the year — and junior OF Makenzie Sais for leadership. “We’re excited to see who will step up to our varsity roster,” Dufour said. “We see it as reloading instead of rebuilding.”

Niwot Cougars

Coach: Bobby Matthews

The Scorecard: Another year older, another year wiser. That’s what Niwot softball is looking forward to this upcoming season, as the Cougars return their top two offensive performers to the lineup in junior P/3B Anne Booth (.518 batting average, 44 hits, 38 RBI) and junior SS/CF Autumn Rutherford (.517, 45, 20). Those two, along with senior 2B/3B Zoie Chociej, will provide the leadership for a team that’s expecting to see large jumps in offensive production across the board. “Autumn Rutherford had an amazing season in club softball,” Matthews said. “Her growth is going to be great to watch this season.”

Skyline Falcons

Coach: Pam Arnold

The Scorecard: After enduring a 4-19 record in 2021, the Falcons are a year older and wiser. They said goodbye to just three seniors, meaning they’ll return a strong core of girls from the year before. Early on, Arnold will look to senior C/3B Tiffani Mein, senior LF/UTIL CC McNally, senior 1B/3B Ashley Trosper, junior SS/UTIL Hannah Johnson and sophomore C/2B Sidney McNally to take the reins of the program. “I think we will be in a good spot to continue to grow as a program,” Arnold said.

NCAA League

Teams and trends: Greeley Central, Greeley West, Holy Family, Longmont, Mead, Silver Creek and Windsor. Holy Family has risen to the top of the short-lived league, as the Tigers have won the league title in its first two years of existence. Last year, however, Windsor gave them a good run for their money.

2021 league leaders: Batting average — Claire Adams, Mead (.624); Home runs — Annika Manzanares (8); Slugging — Hannah Johnson, Skyline* (1.161); RBI — Manzanares (48); Runs — Kately Wiescamp, Mead* (46); OBP — Courtney Wood, Longmont* (.685); Stolen bases — Clara McNally, Skyline* (33); ERA — Isabella Arroyo, Holy Family* (1.81); Strikeouts — Joslynn Veltien, Mead* (151); Wins — Arroyo (18)

Numbers game: Arroyo, a freshman, stood out among stiff competition from upperclassman pitchers as she held her own with 18 wins (third in Class 4A) and a 1.81 ERA (fifth in 4A).

Holy Family Tigers

Coach: Moriah Nguyen

The Scorecard: The Tigers cruised their way to a third Class 4A state championship in four years last fall and rarely let another team get the better of them. While they said goodbye to some heavy hitters in Ava Kuszak, Abby Edwards and Annika Manzanares, they’ll be welcoming back their sophomore ace, Izzy Arroyo, as well as sophomore C Makaila Moosbrugger, senior INF Katelyn Morris and junior INF Kaylee McDonald. “(The seniors) have climbed the ropes together and know what it takes to be a successful team,” Nguyen said. “They have stuck together, faced adversity, and are ready to defend Holy Family’s state title.”

Longmont Trojans

Coach: Adam Hoffman

The Scorecard: There’s a certain excitement in youth, and this year’s Longmont softball team knows that all too well. With about 90% of the team comprised of freshmen and sophomores, there will be plenty of room for growth at the high school level. In the meantime, the Trojans will lean on senior P/SS Courtney Wood, junior 2B/SS Shyanne Pohl, sophomore 3B/P Sasha Bruckner, sophomore 1B Avery Wolfsberger and junior P/OF Caitlyn Rangel. “The goal is to build a winning culture with confidence and show the younger girls they can compete,” Hoffman said. “I’m excited to see what our young players can do.”

Mead Mavericks

Coach: Amanda Macaluso

The Scorecard: When it comes to high school athletics, experience is the name of the game, and Mead has no shortage in that department. After hosting their first regional tournament in 2021 and subsequently making it to the 4A state tournament — their third such trip in three years — the Mavericks will return seven starters and eight seniors. Some of the top returners include senior ace Joslynn Veltien, senior OF Katelynn Wiescamp, sophomore UTIL Adisyn Rademacher and sophomore 3B Nikki Ward. “We are incredibly confident coming into this season,” Macaluso said. “Our team as been very coachable and are really understanding of what we are trying to build at Mead.”

Silver Creek Raptors

Coach: Ryan Beavers

The Scorecard: Every team has its hiccups, and 2021 was that year for the Raptors. It was the first time in 14 years that the team had not made the postseason and the first time they missed the state tournament in 11 years. The experience should give way to more clutch play. Early on, they’ll look to senior 1B Alexa Gorr, junior OF Paige Fisher, senior 3B Delaney Granger, senior OF Grace LaCrosse, senior SS Isabelle Martinez and junior OF Riley Reeder to take the reins. “(We’re) looking to bounce back this season and play solid softball to make a run at a postseason appearance again,” Beavers said.

Class 4A/3A

Patriot League

Teams and trends: Berthoud, Brush, Eaton, Lyons, Platte Valley, Resurrection Christian, Sterling, Strasburg, University, Valley, Weld Central, Wellington and Timnath. This group boasted perhaps one of the strongest leagues in 2021 as six squads earned a bid to the Class 3A state tournament. Eaton has won the league the last two years, but University has been right there with it.

2021 league leaders: Batting average — Aubrey Wright, Sterling (.541); Home runs — Ashlyn Knapp, University (6); Slugging — Cece Chiaravelle, Lyons* (1.087); RBI — Addison Harding, University* (55); Runs — Emma Pinkstaff, Eaton (53); OBP — Pinkstaff (.631); Stolen bases — Pinkstaff (40); ERA — Sadie Ross, Eaton* (1.15); Strikeouts — Reagan Fehringer, Sterling* (218); Wins — Fehringer (20)

Numbers game: The Patriot League proved to be comprised of a bunch of thieves as eight ladies — including Lyons’ Gyli Hay, stole 17 bases or more in 2021. Three recorded more than 25.

Lyons Lions

Coach: Julie Vasquez

The Scorecard: Success is sometimes measured in small doses, and the Lions are eager to build upon what they started last year and earn more than eight wins. They’ll have a few strong leaders to rely on in senior SS Brooklyn Enny, senior 3B Raeana Ortiz and junior P Cece Chiaravelle. Vasquez believes that with another year of experience under their belts, and little more dedication to their craft, the Lions will roll in 2022. “We had several girls working hard at our summer practices all summer long, and several who were out traveling playing ball all summer,” she said.

Class 3A

Denver Metro League

Teams and trends: Denver West, Faith Christian, Jefferson Academy, Manual, Peak to Peak, Strive Prep-Smart and The Academy. Lutheran, which now plays in 4A, won the league in its first two years of existence as Peak to Peak finished top three each of those seasons.

2021 league leaders: Batting average — Brooklynn Donatone, Faith Christian (.730); Home runs — Mackenzie Pearson, The Academy* (3); Slugging — Donatone (1.324); RBI — Mackenzie Pearson (39); Runs — Victoria Pearson, The Academy* (43); OBP — Donatone (.762); Stolen bases — Victoria Pearson (16); ERA — Angel Contreraz, The Academy (3.51); Strikeouts — Contreraz (97); Wins — Contreraz (14)

Numbers game: The Denver Metro League proved strong in the batter’s box as 11 ladies, including Peak to Peak’s Kelsey O’Dowd and Alena Carpenter, batted over .500 in 2021.

Jefferson Academy Jaguars

Coach: Ceteria Foster

The Scorecard: For the first time in school history, Jefferson Academy will field a softball team. The Jaguars bring a wide range of talent to the diamond, as most of the players who came from other programs played junior varsity. “It is good to start from the ground up and work our way through the process of development with the team,” Foster said. “We have a mix of girls who have played before and some who have never played before, which makes us very unique in a way. We are excited to see the growth and development over time and where the season takes us.”

Peak to Peak Pumas

Coach: Brandin Becher

The Scorecard: The Pumas return after a successful 2021 that saw them earn a bid to the Class 3A state tournament, and will be bringing back a number of veterans from that team with senior 3B/SS/C Alena Carpenter, senior 1B/3B Leah Legeer, sophomore C/SS Maggie Wallis and sophomore UTIL Sydney Cusack, all of whom made the all-conference list last year. “We are pretty confident that our veterans will have solid seasons and keep us competitive and that our new freshman will also be major contributors to our successes this year,” Becher said.

Frontier League

Teams and trends: Arrupe Jesuit, Arvada, Centaurus, Englewood, Fort Lupton, Jefferson, Middle Park, Platte Canyon and Sheridan. This is a brand new league.

Centaurus Warriors

Coach: Micci Reed

The Scorecard: As the Warriors continue their rebuild, they’ll look forward to dipping their toes into a new conference, the Frontier League, that better suits them. While they try to hammer out the details of their lineup, they’ll rely on the leadership of senior SS/C/P Veronica Ember, senior SS/CF Sofia Christoff, senior C/SS/OF Ella Cromie and sophomore 3B/P Kameron Lavender. “This conference will be a much better fit for our developing program,” Reed said. “Most of the team from last year will be returning and they showed tremendous character last year and they thrived under adversity.”

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