Knowing their competition: Warriors have defeated six teams in Sweet 16
The Central High School softball team has done its homework.
Of the 16 remaining teams in the Class 5A state softball tournament, the Warriors have faced and defeated six of those teams this season.
When the brackets for the Sweet 16 were released Sunday, Central remained the No. 2 seed, and will play No. 15 Lakewood in the first round Friday at Aurora Sports Park.
“I thought the seeding was good,” Central coach Scott Else said. “Lakewood is a team a lot like Poudre, that is under-ranked.”
Although the Warriors have yet to face the Tigers this season, Else said he’s seen them play at the Dave Sanders Tournament and is familiar with their personnel.
“We have faced their pitcher (Kylie Pierce) during the competitive season,” Else said. “They are a lot better than what they are ranked.”
Else’s statement is backed by the fact that despite being the 30th seed overall heading into the playoffs, Lakewood earned the second qualifier spot out of Region 5. The Tigers defeated No. 3 Chaparral 4-2 to advance.
If the Warriors can make it past Lakewood, they will be matched up with a couple of familiar foes. Central’s second-round opponent is the winner of the first-round game between No. 7 Brighton and No. 10 Fruita Monument.
The Warriors have faced Fruita Monument during Southwestern League play and defeated Brighton 4-0 earlier in the season.
Regardless of which team the Warriors face, Else said Central is excited to make the trip to state.
“For a lot of girls, this is their third time over there,” Else said. “We want to go further than we have in the past.”
Fruita Monument dropped from the No. 8 seed to the No. 10 seed and was the only team in the 5A bracket to drop in its seeding.
“I thought we would be right around there,” Fruita Monument coach Jamie Dunn said. “It’s just unfortunate they put Central and us on the same side.”
The Wildcats’ first-round opponent, Brighton, is a team Fruita has faced. The two teams met in preseason scrimmages at Canyon View Park, and Dunn said it was good having that chance to see what Brighton had.
“We have seen them and know they have a pretty decent pitcher,” Dunn said. “The key for us is staying disciplined at the plate and choosing the right pitch to hit.”
Fruita and Central play their opening games at 12:15 p.m.
Earlier in the day, Palisade faces No. 1 Wheat Ridge. The Bulldogs earned the No. 16 seed in the 4A playoffs, and have their first game at 10 a.m.
This is the first time Palisade has been in the Sweet 16 since 2000.
In 3A, Basalt is the No. 9 seed and faces Platte Canyon.