Legacy's softball team built upon its legend in more ways than one last Saturday and Sunday in the Class 5A state softball tournament at the Aurora Sports Park.
Legacy, coached by Dawn Gaffin, won its sixth state title over the past seven seasons as the Lightning defeated Parker's Legend High School, 6-4, in the championship game. The Lightning had advanced to the final with a 5-3 victory against Brighton.
The tournament was to have been played on Friday and Saturday, but Friday's rains postponed the action to Saturday and Sunday. Legacy, seeded No. 5 in the field, opened with a 6-2 victory against Chatfield, then followed with an 8-1 quarterfinal win against Dakota Ridge.
Legend opened it side of the tournament beating Grandview, 13-8, and Rock Canyon, 6-1, on Saturday. The Titans then beat Fossil Ridge, 9-4, on Sunday to advance to the championship game.
It appeared Legacy had the championship locked up heading into the seventh inning against Legend with a 6-1 lead. But the Titans freshman, Karlee Arnold, unloaded with a three run homer to close the gap to the final score.
Shania Leon and Jordan Sheard had come through with RBI hits in the bottom of the sixth which would eventually secure the win for Legacy. The pair also knocked in a pair of runs back in the fourth that had helped lift the Lightning to their 4-1 lead.
An error by Legend's shortstop Zoe Mihalica also to help account for two of the Legacy runs in the fourth allowing Leon and Celyn Whitt to score.
In a way, it was a sigh of relief for Gaffin, who has coached the Lightning for the past 14 years.
“It was great with the girls, just good citizens and good students,” Gaffin said. “They work hard. We only had two varsity starters back, so we had to fill a lot of positions that didn't have a lot of varsity experience. We had to knuckle down and work hard with the youth.”
Leon felt that all her team needed, beside herself, was to calm down.
“I wanted to help everyone out,” Leon said. “I was nervous. I just wanted to let my memory take over on how to play right and get the bat on the ball. That was the big thing for me.”
It definitely was a good way to end the season, if not her career, for third baseman Kylie Bernard.
“It's just great that as a team we came through together,” Bernard said. “Our goal was to reach state and win and as it turned out, nothing stopped us. We worked together as a family. The key for me this season was to learn from all my mistakes and to go forward and do better.”
Pitcher Haley Smith was more than pleased, as well, for the way the season ended.
“We've come so far from the beginning of the season to where we are now and that's made us so tough,” Smith said. “We had a lot of doubters and people that said we couldn't do it and nobody was really worried about us. We were kind of the underdogs and we stepped up.”
Memories, true, will always come from winning a state title. And for Taylor Brothers, who caught the final out in each of the games against Brighton and Legend, those two plays will be unforgettable.
“Yes. I'll always remember making those last outs,” Brothers said. “I just wanted to get to the balls. We just played our hearts out to win.”
Jon E. Yunt contributed to this story.