Softball: Holy Family earns its way back to Class 4A semifinals

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AURORA — Mead and Holy Family have been formidable league opponents on the diamond as of late, so it came as no surprise when the two teams took their Class 4A state quarterfinal game all the way down to the wire on Friday afternoon.

The contest, which took place at the Aurora Sports Park, saw the top-seeded Tigers do what they do best. They hit the ball strategically in crunch time to secure a 9-5 victory over the ninth-seeded Mavericks.

It was anybody’s ballgame up until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Tigers struck with four runs thanks to the offensive leadership of senior Annika Manzanares. Freshman ace Isabella Arroyo brought it home for Holy Family by keeping the Mavericks scoreless in the top of the seventh.

“Mead just came out,” Arroyo said. “They wanted to win but we wanted it more. We just got to keep the intensity up and just keep putting more pressure. Eventually, they struggled and we just put it on them.”

Up until that point, the Mavericks and Tigers exchanged blows while relying on solid pitching from both teams. Mead junior Katelyn Wiescamp gave her team the boost it needed in the fourth inning when she slammed a three-run home run to tie the game up at 5-5.

Although the Mavericks ended their 2021 season a bit earlier than they had hoped, they took pride in the journey they took to get there. Mead struggled early in the season as the ladies tried to navigate through just four returning starters and a majority of new varsity players.

They started their season 3-5 before figuring everything out and, eventually, earning a spot in the state tournament. They won their first game in a 7-4 finish against Conifer.

“My freshman year, I had the walk-off against them so it kind of just brought back memories,” Wiescamp said. “It shows that we really came together and we played our hearts out and left it all on the field.”

Now, the defending state champions will look to make a run back to the title game Saturday. Holy Family faces Riverdale Ridge at 10 a.m., with the winner advancing to a 1:30 p.m. championship.

Legend 2, Broomfield 0Broomfield entered the Class 5A state tournament as the immediate underdog as a No. 12 seed against No. 5 giant Legacy. Junior ace Bree Fiala didn’t let it get to her head. She shut out the Lightning as her offense surged behind her for the 6-0 upset.

Legend, however, proved to be a bit tougher as the Eagles struggled to score runs — even a single run, as a matter of fact. Fiala, however, was still brilliant on the mound as she only gave up two runs against the No. 4 seed. Just a week earlier, the Eagles fell to Legend by a 9-0 finish.

Broomfield’s season came to an end, but not without a great turnaround to even be able to qualify for state. The Eagles opened their schedule 1-4 but worked hard to reverse their fortunes.

Win or lose on Friday, their efforts brought them farther than they may have imagined at the beginning of the season.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my team,” Fiala said. “We worked so hard to get here. It was a bit of a rough season in the beginning but we pulled it through, worked hard at practice. We didn’t think we were going to pull it off this morning but we gave it our all and we sure did.”

Broomfield 6, Legacy 0Broomfield entered the competition with a No. 12 seed as the Lightning sat at No. 5 but, as every good college basketball fan knows, one can never trust a 12-5 matchup. The Eagles managed to pull off the upset with a dominant pitching performance to send the Lightning back home earlier than they expected. The game marked the end of a brilliant career for Dawn Gaffin, the face of the Legacy dugout since the program’s inception.

Ponderosa 12, Frederick 6Frederick entered its state tournament matchup as an underdog with the No. 12 seed to Ponderosa’s No. 5. The Mustangs jumped out in front of the Warriors early and kept pace with runs in five of the seven innings. The Warriors scored three runs in both the fourth and fifth innings and still couldn’t reach the seven runs that the Mustangs had built through the top of the fifth inning. The Warriors ended their season with an 18-9 record.

Elizabeth 4, Erie 1Erie earned the No. 3 seed to the Class 4A state tournament, and it served the Tigers well in their first matchup of the day against No. 14 Wheat Ridge. They beat the Farmers by a 3-1 final but moved on to a much tougher opponent in No. 6 Elizabeth later that afternoon. The Cardinals took the 4-0 advantage going into the seventh inning when the Tigers only managed to put up one run. The Tigers finished their season 23-5.

Eaton 12, Peak to Peak 0The Pumas earned the No. 15 seed for the Class 3A tournament, but that meant they had to face off with the classification’s second-best team. The Fightin’ Reds wasted no time showing everyone why they deserve that ranking. Peak to Peak finished the season with an 11-5 record.