Erie’s new softball coach Tobin EchoHawk had been in the college game for the better part of two decades prior to her return to high school. She’s seen what the top prospects in the game look like probably as much as anybody around town and believes she’s found another in junior pitcher Gracie Sackett.
“She’s a D-I player,” said EchoHawk, who returns as a high school coach after previous stops at Centaurus and Broomfield in the late 90s and early 2000s. “She’s got great movement, speed, she’s tall, and I really feel like she is just starting to tap into her potential.”
For the past three weeks, nobody in the state has been more dominant than the Tigers (9-3, 3-0 5A/4A FRL).
Despite their lack of a top-10 rank at any point in Class 5A this season, they aren’t just winning a lot of late — they’re winning by a whole heck of a lot, too.
Starting 1-3 on the year playing top teams from Oklahoma, they’ve since outscored their last eight opponents, 97-5. Sackett has been the headliner.
In her team’s eighth straight win Tuesday — 12-3 over Legacy — the ace pitcher marveled, allowing her second and third earned runs of the season only after her team had double-digit leads.
This season, Sackett has more strikeouts (53) than she’s allowed hits (24), walks (15) and runs (5) combined.
“We’re just really bonding as a team and coming together,” said Sackett, sporting a 5-0 record and 0.53 ERA through 39 2/3 innings pitched.
Prior to Tuesday, Erie had allowed two runs in its past seven games. The first gave Pueblo East a 1-0 lead after the top of the first inning on Aug. 18 (the Tigers scored the next 13). The other came after being up 17-0 against Poudre on Aug. 23.
Tuesday, following a weekend where it outscored teams 30-0 (which included shutout wins over 4A No. 2 Riverdale Ridge and 3A No. 3 University), the Tigers jumped on Legacy with a three-run shot by Renee Laczkowski in the first and another three-run bomb from Addie Osbourne in the fourth.
It was 10-0 in the fifth before Kate Walker’s run-scoring triple extended the game. Laczkowski followed with her second homer of the day (fourth of the season) in the sixth before Ayana Goodwin pushed the game to the seventh with a run-scoring triple of her own.
Sackett got a strikeout and induced a weak grounder to end the game.
“Like Gracie said, we’re just focused on playing as a team and not playing for your own stats,” said Laczkowski, who leads the team with 16 runs driven in. “And we’re not getting on a high horse thinking we’re going to beat every team. We just want to play hard every single game.”
Legacy (3-5, 1-1) fell for the third time in four games under new coach John Waller, who took over following the retirement of Dawn Gaffin.
Shortstop Walker and catcher Jordyn Heronimus each had three hits in the loss. The previous two defeats were much closer, falling to No. 7 Valor Christian by two and defending champ No. 2 Legend by one.
“Clearly from the first scrimmage we had we’ve grown so much,” Walker said. “And I think it’s just going to keep going up from here.”
Sackett (see above) has been great for Erie.
Legacy’s Walker said of her: “Gracie has always been one of the pitchers I’ve played against in club for a long time. I’ve always seen such great movement and she also has speed to it. Most of the pitchers you see with lots of movement don’t have that speed dominance. But Gracie brings both.”
Elsewhere, NCAC standouts Isabella Arroyo of 4A No. 4 Holy Family and Joslynn Veltien of No. 9 Mead are among the state’s leaders in strikeouts. Arroyo has 61 Ks in 47 1/3 innings and Veltien has 73 in 61.
Arroyo, meanwhile, has a 1.77 ERA. Veltien is at 2.87.
Haley Howell took her first loss on the mound this season as 4A No. 8 Frederick (6-1, 5-1 4A LPL) fell 9-5 to Riverdale Ridge Tuesday. So, maybe hitting for the cycle would be better received on a different day anyway.
Howell had four hits and came a triple shy of the cycle in the loss. Her home run was her second of the season.
Left out loud
Erie, Legacy and Broomfield are among the first four teams out of the top-10 rankings in the CHSAA coaches poll. There will be complaints.
Broomfield has won four of its last five, beating Poudre 12-2 in six innings Tuesday. Freshman Ireland Heer has 17 RBIs and three home runs in her first 11 games.
Lyons is fourth out of rankings in 3A. It lost 1-0 in a pitching duel against No. 5 Sterling Tuesday. Ceci Chiaravalle allowed just three hits and an unearned run in the loss, striking out 11. She is second in 3A with 109 Ks this season.