If this weekend’s state softball tournaments have a familiar feel to them, it may be because Holy Family, Frederick, Fort Lupton, Riverdale Ridge and Horizon high schools qualified a year ago.
First-round games are set for 10 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 20, at Aurora Sports Park, East Colfax Avenue and Tower Road. Semifinals and finals are set for Saturday, Oct. 21.
Here’s a breakdown of the northern teams heading into the weekend.
Fort Lupton makes its sixth straight appearance in the state 3A tournament. The Bluedevils earned the 11th seed and will tangle with sixth-seeded Thomas Jefferson High School at 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 20.
The Bluedevils advanced to the second round of the state tournament each of the past two seasons. Albert Vasquez took over the program in 2013, Since then, his teams have finished at .500 or better in every season except two.
Fort Lupton takes an 18-6-1 mark into this year’s tournament. Vasquez called it “a tough year.”
“It was a struggle trying to have them understand what we were trying to accomplish,” Vasquez said. “We kept preaching teamwork. We started coming together after the Brush tournament (in September). We played well that Friday and not as well Saturday. We told them we have to play together; otherwise, we’re going to struggle the rest of the year.”
Fort Lupton won the class 3A Frontier League title with a perfect 6-0 mark.
“Last year’s group was never complacent,” Vasquez said. “We have a new group this year that’s never been to the postseason. We gelled quickly. When we fell behind, it didn’t seem to phase them. We’re not one of those programs where we’re fortunate to have kids playing high (high-level) competitive ball.”
The Golden Eagles (19-7 this season) make their fourth appearance in a row at the state 4A tournament. This year, Frederick drew the 11th seed and will face sixth-seeded Berthoud High School at 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 20.
Senior outfielder Makenzie Sais led Frederick with a .625 batting average and a .700 on-base percentage. Five of her 50 hits went for extra bases. Junior shortstop Avery Salisbury hit at a .434 clip this fall. One-third of her 33 base hits went for extra bases. Payton Torres took care of most of the pitching duties. She struck out 74 batters in 110 innings on the mound and had an earned-run average of 3.35. Elayna Fisher struck out 21 batters in her 33 innings of work.
The only coach the Golden Eagles have ever had, Roger Dufour, won his 400th career game earlier this season. The Golden Eagles were second in the class 4A Longs Peak League.
The Tigers (24-1) finished second a season ago. This year, they drew the No. 1 seed in class 4A and will face Pine Creek in the opening round. Game time is 10 a.m. on Oct. 20.
Kaylee McDonald, a senior, leads the hitting effort with a .519 batting average this season. She has as many hits (40) as RBIs. Thirteen of her base hits are for extra bases. Junior Jaelyn Sandoval compiled a .486 batting average this fall. Nine of her 34 hits this season are for extra bases. Another junior, Isabella Arroyo, has a 0.96 earned-run average. In 86 innings of work, Arroyo allowed 11 earned runs and struck out 93 batters.
Holy Family’s only loss was to class 5A Chatfield High School in extra innings.
For the Hawks of Horizon, it’s their fourth straight appearance at state. The third-seeded Hawks (21-4) take on Fossil Ridge in the first round. First pitch is at 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 20.
Lily Mohr, a senior, hit .582 for the Hawks this season and also led the squad in home runs with 11. Hadley Hudson’s batting average was .512. Twenty-one of her 43 hits were good for extra bases. Senior pitcher Madison Vollmar’s earned-run average was 2.48 in just over 53 innings of work. She recorded 59 strikeouts. Hudson piled up 72 strikeouts in her 55 innings on the mound. Her earned-run average was 3.18.
Horizon finished second in the Front Range League this season. The Hawks advanced as far as the state 5A semifinals in 2021.
The Ravens (23-2) earned their best seed – second – in school history this year. Riverdale Ridge takes on 15th-seeded Roosevelt at 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 20. This marks the Ravens’ fifth straight appearance at state. The school has fielded a softball team for six seasons.
Infielder Peyton Saenz tops the hitting effort with a .597 average. The freshman pounded out 43 hits this fall, 20 of which went for extra bases. Mady Ortiz hit at a .487 clip and drove in 32 runs. Brynn Trujiollo had an earned-run average of 1.65 over 55 ⅔ innings of work. She struck out 89 batters.
Riverdale Ridge, which went through the class 4A Longs Peak League season without a loss, advanced to the state semifinals in 2021. Coach Ray Garza, the only Ravens’ coach in the history of the program, won his 100th game at the helm earlier this season.
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