Double-elimination format allows Central to lose, still make it to state softball tourney

Central High School Danielle Romine gets a high five from third base coach Sabrina Juarez as she heads for the plate after hitting a grand slam home run in the bottom of the first inning of Saturday’s consolation game against Cherry Creek at Canyon View Park.

Thank goodness for second chances.

In years past, one loss in the regional tournament meant the end of a season for a high school softball team.

The Colorado High School Activities Association softball committee changed its postseason into a double-elimination format this year.

Central High School is grateful.

After a frustrating 2-1 loss to Columbine in Saturday’s Class 5A Region 6 tournament at Canyon View Park, the Warriors bounced back to defeat Cherry Creek 13-3 and advance to Friday’s round of 16 at Aurora Sports Park.

“I’m just really glad we get to go,” Central coach Sabrina Juarez said.

The Warriors had to work all day to earn the state berth.

They defeated Cherry Creek 3-1 in their opener despite getting only one hit. That was because Ashley Goletz kept the Bruins off-balance by tossing a four-hitter.

Central scored twice in the sixth inning on Cherry Creek errors.

Meanwhile, Fruita Monument lost its opener to Columbine 5-2, despite out-hitting the Rebels 5-4.

Columbine scored four runs in the sixth off a pair of Wildcat errors.

That pitted Central against Columbine, with the winner earning one of the region’s two state berths.

Columbine took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but Central got one back on Jessica Romine’s leadoff home run in the bottom of the inning.

The rest was up to the pitchers.

Kelsey O’Brien, one of the state’s best, gave up four hits the rest of the way and struck out nine.

The Warriors’ Mikayla Duffy allowed only two hits the rest of the way, striking out seven.

Central left runners stranded in scoring position in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

“We just couldn’t seem to get anything going,” Juarez said.

O’Brien was particularly effective with her rise ball, making it difficult for Central to play small ball.

“We were all a little nervous facing her,” Central’s Danielle Romine said. “She had a pretty good rise ball and we couldn’t lay off it.”

Cherry Creek defeated Fruita Monument 5-3 in the loser-out game. Again, the Wildcats out-hit the Bruins 7-5 and had a double and a triple from Brooke Williams.

In the final qualifying game, Central defeated Cherry Creek in five innings by the 10-run rule.

Danielle Romine got the Warriors going with a grand slam in the bottom of the first.

“She gave me an inside pitch and I turned on it,” Romine said.

Central (19-3) awaits word on its opponent on Friday.

“The three games we lost we’ve lost by one run and we beat ourselves,” Juarez said.

As for a rematch against Columbine, “I would love to have another shot at them,” Juarez said.

“We want to show ’em what we can do,” Romine said.


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