AURORA — Eight BoCo area softball teams played their way to the state championships at Aurora Sports Park on Friday, and only four remained by Saturday morning. Erie took the stage as the No. 4 seed in the Class 5A bracket as No. 2 Holy Family, No. 5 Frederick and No. 6 Mead claimed three of the four semifinal spots in the 4A competition.
Only one lived to play in the finals. While Holy Family advanced to the Class 4A title game — eventually coming up short in a 3-0 loss to Lutheran — the Tigers, Warriors and Mavericks ended remarkable runs in 2022 battling to the end. A recap of the semifinals:
No. 2 Holy Family 8, No. 6 Mead 2: The Tigers started off the day slowly but raised the excitement level in the very first inning when Kaylee McDonald put the Tigers up 1-0 with a steal of home. The Tigers and Mavericks kept spectators guessing over the next couple of innings until the bottom of the third when HFHS plated six runs to extend the lead to 7-0. Mari Nanez, Hannah Juencke, Emmaline Humphreys, McDonald and Izzy Arroyo all knocked in runs in the effort.
McDonald and Humphreys ended their first contest of the day with two RBIs apiece and Arroyo pitched four innings with four strikeouts, allowing one earned run and five hits. Mead’s Kelsi Fulk earned the lone RBI for the Mavericks as senior ace Joslynn Veltien struck out six and gave up six earned runs and 10 hits from the circle.
No. 1 Lutheran 8, No. 5 Frederick 2: The Lions came out swinging early in the contest, putting up three runs in the first inning alone before the Golden Eagles started to get their bearings. Frederick’s defense held firm throughout the next few frames and, thanks to an untimely error from Lutheran, managed to score a couple of runs via Hailey Simmons and Makenzie Sais on an error in the top of the third.
The Golden Eagles pulled within one run at 3-2 before the Lions blew them away in the bottom of the fourth. Sais, Avery Salisbury and Carlie Nagy all earned hits throughout the effort as starting pitcher Haley Howell struck out three and gave up seven earned runs on nine hits through 3.1 innings.
No. 1 Columbine 3, No. 4 Erie 2: The Rebels and Tigers delivered the most exciting game of the 4A and 5A semifinals and the only one that didn’t end in a blowout. Addie Osborne got the party started with a smooth single in the top of the first to bring Megan Nelson home, but Erie couldn’t strike again until the fourth inning, when Gabby Gricius scored on a bases-loaded walk.
Those two runs were all the Rebels would let them have. Columbine utilized the bottom of that same frame to send three runners home to irrevocably take the lead and set the final score in stone.
Nelson drove in the lone RBI for the Tigers as starting pitcher Gracie Sackett gave up three earned runs and nine hits but struck out four.