Jennifer Romero led Columbine to the biggest upset in the softball regionals on Saturday.
The sophomore pitched in all three games her No. 31-seeded Rebels played in the Class 5A bracket, and didn't allow a run — including a complete-game performance against No. 2 Legacy, the defending 5A champion, which clinched a berth in next weekend's state tournament.
"She really stepped it up a notch," Columbine coach Brooks Roybal told CHSAANow.com on Saturday evening. "She pitched really, really well."
Columbine actually dropped its opening game of the 5A Region 8 bracket at Broomfield Industrial Park. That was also against Legacy, and the Rebels fell 6-0.
But Romero entered in the final two innings of the opening game, and didn't allow Legacy another run.
Columbine dropped to the loser's bracket for the second game, and face Cherokee Trail — a team the Rebels had beaten 12-11 in the second game of the season. Like the first meeting, offense ruled. Cherokee Trail led 7-6 midway through before Romero again entered again — and again shut the opposing offense down.
Columbine went on to rally and win that game, 11-7, thanks in part to a home run from Carly Perry.
Meanwhile, Douglas County had topped Cherokee Trail 6-0, and then beat Legacy 7-0 to win the region. It set Columbine up with a rematch, with a berth to state on the line.
This time, Romero started. She pitched a complete-game shutout, and buoyed by a grand slam from Perry, Columbine pulled the upset, 8-0.
"I think playing against Cherokee Trail, our bats came alive a little bit and they had a little more confidence going against Legacy that second round," Roybal said. "Especially after we shut them down. Legacy might have been down a little bit, too, because they just got beat by Douglas County. You catch them at the right time sometimes."
The end result was this: Columbine, a No. 31 seed, moved on to the state tournament, while Legacy did not.
"We told them afterwards it was probably the biggest win Columbine has had in the last eight years," Roybal said. "We haven't been a qualifier for seven or eight years."
Columbine already had a number of big wins this season, including topping Brighton and Ralston Valley.
"They've got a few good wins under their belts this year which have been huge," Roybal said. "You know, we've never beat Brighton, we've never beaten Ralston Valley. And I'm sure we've never beaten Legacy. We've always thought we could beat anybody, if we played well."
More 5A notables
- No. 24-seeded Pine Creek upset No. 9 Mountain Range in the opening round in Region 2, then advanced to the state tournament with a 10-9 win over Fruita Monument in the final game.
- Horizon, a No. 28 seed, rallied from being no-hit by Castle View in its first game to top No. 21 Greeley West (13-2), and then No. 12 Pomona (8-5) in reaching the state tournament.
- No. 29 Arvada West dropped its first game, but then won two straight to earn a berth. Included was a 10-5 win over No. 13 Rock Canyon.
- The complete 5A state field, with regional seeds noted: No. 1 Fossil Ridge, No. 3 Dakota Ridge, No. 4 Brighton, No. 5 Castle View, No. 6 Legend, No. 7 Grandview, No. 8 Broomfield, No. 10 Grand Junction Central, No. 11 Rocky Mountain, No. 14 Chaparral, No. 16 Eaglecrest, No. 18 Douglas County, No. 24 Pine Creek, No. 28 Horizon, No. 29 Arvada West, No. 31 Columbine.
- The softball seeding committee will meet at the CHSAA office at 9 a.m. Monday to seed the state tournament.
- Complete 5A brackets.
- Air Academy, a No. 24 seed, dropped its first game of the tournament, to Erie, 3-1. The Kadets then beat No. 25 Holy Family 1-0, and upset eighth-seeded Mountain View 7-5 to claim a state berth.
- Region 4 had a length rain delay which disrupted play in its second round games. Prior to the delay, Wheat Ridge advanced. After the delay, No. 20 Thompson Valley went on to upset No. 13 Pueblo East for the other berth.
- No. 26-seeded Mead rebounded from an opening-round loss to win its next two games and advance to the 4A tournament. The Mavericks beat No. 23 Thomas Jefferson and No. 10 Berthoud.
- D'Evelyn, a No. 27 seed, actually upset No. 6 Vista Ridge in the first round but then dropped the winner's-bracket game to No. 11 Ponderosa. D'Evelyn had to turn around and beat Vista Ridge again for the tournament berth.
- The complete 4A state field, using regional seeds: No. 1 Frederick, No. 2 Valor Christian, No. 3 Pueblo West, No. 4 Wheat Ridge, No. 5 Silver Creek, No. 7 Discovery Canyon, No. 9 Erie, No. 11 Ponderosa, No. 12 Mullen, No. 14 Niwot, No. 16 Falcon, No. 18 Windsor, No. 20 Thompson Valley, No. 24 Air Academy, No. 26 Mead, No. 27 D'Evelyn.
- Complete 4A brackets.
- Surprisingly, there was not a single upset during the entire 3A regional tournament. It meant the new format, which would have only played a third game if the top seed in a given region lost, was not used this season.
- The complete 3A state field, using regional seeds: No. 1 Strasburg, No. 2 Valley, No. 3 La Junta, No. 4 Sterling, No. 5 Eaton, No. 6 Lamar, No. 7 Skyline, No. 8 Burlington, No. 9 Cedaredge, No. 10 Brush, No. 11 Rocky Ford, No. 12 Basalt.
- Complete 3A brackets.