It’s postseason softball — a time where star pitching has often reigned supreme, more times than not dictating the state’s latest set of champions.
Four-team regional tournaments in Class 5A-3A begin Friday with a total of 10 local teams qualified, five of which are hosting. 5A and 4A are a double-elimination format and 3A is single. Two teams from each will advance.
Friday, 2021 BoCoPreps.com player of the year Isabella Arroyo and her career 27-2 record on the mound will lead Holy Family’s title defense as Class 4A’s No. 2 seed. Erie, spoiled with not one but two aces in Gracie Sackett and Matix Hull, head up 5A’s fifth-ranked team as it searches for lucky title No. 13. And Frederick’s Haley Howell, with three no-hitters to her name this season, will look to lead 4A’s fifth-ranked team to a third consecutive trip to the state playoffs.
Then Saturday, No. 8 Broomfield and four-year starter Breanna Fiala will look to punch the Eagles’ fifth straight trip to the 5A state postseason. Mead’s Joslynn Veltien, meanwhile, can help 4A’s seventh-ranked team take one step closer to getting back to the state championship game for a second time in three seasons.
The other five area teams go on the road. It includes 5A No. 20 Legacy, 4A No. 27 Silver Creek and No. 32 Boulder, and 3A No. 18 Lyons and No. 22 Peak to Peak.
Below is a breakdown of each of the 10 regions with local teams.
First round: No. 8 Broomfield vs. No. 25 Liberty; No. 9 Horizon vs. No. 24 Rock Canyon
Analysis: Broomfield has a few seasoned veterans on roster —names like Breanna Fiala and Caylie Eiguren — one the statistical leader on the mound, the other at the plate. But mostly the Eagles are young, relatively inexperienced and completely entertaining because of it. What will freshman Ireland Heer be able to do in the postseason? Especially after the year she had. In the regular season, she was first on the team in homers (three), second in runs driven in (20) and was a strong No. 2 on the mound to Fiala, touting a 1.67 ERA over 54 1/3 innings pitched.
Need to know: The Eagles come into the regional tournament winners of 12 of their last 13 games. They beat Rock Canyon and Horizon in the regular season.
First round: No. 5 Erie vs. No. 28 Heritage; No. 12 Fossil Ridge vs. No. 21 Arapahoe
Analysis: First-year coach Tobin EchoHawk’s team hasn’t lost to a team from Colorado this season. Coming into regionals, her Tigers have the longest winning streak in the state at 19 games. One big reason why is Gracie Sackett. The one name in Colorado sports that ends with “ACKETT” that is doing well this fall, the junior has allowed just seven earned runs in 76 2/3 innings while her cohort Matix Hull has given up just two in 34 frames. At the plate, meanwhile, Renee Laczkowski and Addie Osborne are both crushing the ball. Laczkowski is hitting .500 with 33 RBIs and Osborne is hitting .367 with 26 driven in. Both are tied for 11th in the classification with six homers.
Need to know: Erie has 12 state titles, double the amount of any other program in the state. Up in 5A for the first time this season, the Tigers can become the first Colorado softball program to win a state title in all three classifications.
First round: No. 4 Legend vs. No. 29 Bear Creek; No. 13 Grand Junction Central vs. No. 20 Legacy
Analysis: It’s never easy losing a coach, especially one that had as much acclaim and success as Dawn Gaffin. She stepped down and in went John Waller. His Lightning found traction late in the season, winning seven of their last nine. They drew a region headlined by defending champ Legend and its all-state pitcher Cameron Ponich. And to combat it, they will need balance across their lineup.
Need to know: Batting depth is key for Legacy. Leading the way this season has been Ayana Goodwin, who hit .516 and was one of three players to finish the regular season hitting better than .500. Kate Walker and Meghan Allshouse both at .507. Jordyn Heronimus has driven in 26 and Sam Bocis has five home runs and 25 RBIs.
First round: No. 1 Lutheran vs. No. 32 Boulder; No. 16 Palmer Ridge vs. No. 17 Pueblo East
Analysis: Lutheran has lost one game in two years. Boulder won a league title for the first time in 25 years. Let’s get crazy. The Panthers should be playing free and loose as the classification’s biggest underdog of the tournament. In Game 1 of regionals, they may face reigning 3A player of the year (and possibly 2022 4A POY) Hailey Maestretti on the mound. But at the very least they’re likely see her bat, which has supplied eight home runs and 39 RBIs in 80 plate appearances this fall. If Boulder hopes to claim one of the two bids, they’ll need to keep up an offensive production that has scored 13.7 runs per game.
Need to know: Sophia Pereira is just one of Boulder’s young talents. The sophomore is hitting .493 with 35 RBIs. She homered and got the win on the mound as Boulder claimed a league title over Adams City last week.
First round: No. 5 Frederick vs. No. 28 Wheat Ridge; No. 12 Pueblo West vs. No. 21 Air Academy
Analysis: Haley Howell is the team’s workhorse on the mound, shouldering 101 1/3 innings pitched this season while going 14-3. Makenzie Sais on the other hand is a pure weapon. She hits for contact and has the kind of speed many fielders just can’t throw out. She is currently hitting .615 and has a state-most 56 stolen bases in 23 games. The two of them will headline the 4A Longs Peak League runner-up that beat teams on averaged 10-2.5.
Need to know: Of the Golden Eagles’ three losses on the year, two came to LPL champ and 4A No. 4 Riverdale Ridge. The other was to 5A Grand Junction Central.
First round: No. 6 Elizabeth vs. No. 27 Silver Creek; No. 11 Roosevelt vs. No. 22 D’Evelyn
Analysis: Isabelle Martinez, hitting .510, is a really good shortstop prospect for Silver Creek but hasn’t logged a stat for the Raptors since Sept. 22. Fellow-seniors Delaney Granger and Alexa Gorr also have had nice seasons for Ryan Beavers’ team. Granger has a team-best 25 RBIs, while Gorr has 17 and is hitting .403.
Need to know: To get out of regionals, Silver Creek will likely need to find some consistency on the mound to balance with their offense output. The Raptors found that harmony in their 12-7 season-finale win over 5A No. 25 Liberty last week. The staff shook off a rough opening inning to allow three runs over the last six innings. Granger and Gorr each had three hits in the meantime, driving in four and two respectively.
First round: No. 7 Mead vs. No. 26 Northridge; No. 10 Golden vs. No. 23 Northfield
Analysis: The area has a plethora of really good pitchers this season and Joslynn Veltien is among the best of them. Going 13-7 on the mound this fall, she took a hard-luck 1-0 loss to Elizabeth in the team’s final game of the regular season, allowing one run while striking out 11. Over her last nine appearances on the mound, she has allowed one earned run or fewer in eight of them.
Need to know: The Mavericks lost to No. 6 Elizabeth once. No. 2 Holy Family twice. No. 3 Windsor three times. Outside of that and a couple of narrow losses to 5A teams from Fort Collins, Mead has trounced the competition. Going into last week’s loss to Elizabeth, it had won five straight, outscoring teams 53-3.
First round: No. 2 Holy Family vs. No. 31 Falcon; No. 15 Pueblo County vs. No. 18 Rifle
Analysis: 2022 Isabella Arroyo, the sequel to her 2021 masterpiece, has been fantastic. Dare we say better? For as good as she was on the mound last year, the numbers say Arroyo might be better this fall. Her ERA is down (1.22). Her K rate is a tad up (currently punching out 1.4 batters an inning). And maybe best of all she has a stud No. 2 backing her up in freshman Emmaline Humphreys, who sports a 1.78 ERA and a ridiculous 93 strikeouts over 55 innings pitched. Of course the Tigers may not be as seasoned as last year when standouts Abby Edwards, Ava Kuszak and other seniors helped lead the charge. But their pitching is really good and could lead them to a fourth title in five years.
Need to know: The Tigers’ bats can be productive, too. And will need to be going forward. Although they’ve hit just three home runs this season, Holy Family has a pair of players with plus-20 runs driven in in Makaila Moosbrugger and Kaylee McDonald.
First round: No. 2 Brush vs. No. 31 Cedaredge; No. 15 Montezuma-Cortez vs. No. 18 Lyons
Analysis: All those aces talked about above, none have had the strikeout rate of Lyons junior Ceci Chiaravalle. Few in the state do. In 107 innings, she has 226 Ks. (That’s more than two strikeouts an inning.) With the bat, Chiaravalle leads the team with 26 hits, a .553 average and two home runs.
Need to know: Chiaravalle will face a Montezuma-Cortez offense in Round 1 that has hit .443 this season, more than 100 points above the national average per MaxPreps. If the Lions win, they could face Brush for a second time this fall. They lost 10-0 to it on Sept. 13.
First round: No. 11 Wiley vs. No. 22 Peak to Peak; No. 6 Fort Lupton vs. No. 27 Wellington
Analysis: Peak to Peak’s Alena Carpenter has had one of the better offensive seasons in the classification this fall. If she continues, the Pumas could find themselves upsetting Wiley to advance. In the regular season, the senior was hitting .510 with 35 runs driven in, six home runs and a grand slam. She heads into the tournament on a seven-game hitting streak, going 13-of-23 with 18 RBIs.
Need to know: The Pumas had a brutal opening slate — one ranked team after another, it was Murderer’s Row … the 3A softball team version of it. They started 1-6, then finished 9-4. Did that opening-season test help in the long run? Maybe. And if so, any team may be wise to play up that battle-tested mentality this time of year.