AURORA - It took Pine Creek six years to return to the state softball tournament. And although its trip lasted not quite two hours Saturday, its effects could reach another generation if third-year coach Dave Warhoe has his way.
"Fifteen years from now, they'll look back on this team as the one that got it started," Warhoe said to his team, minutes after his 14th-ranked Eagles fell to No. 3 Fossil Ridge 10-3 in the 5A tournament. "Feel good about what you've done."
Pine Creek (18-5) manufactured two runs in the second with a bases-loaded walk and a catcher's interference to tie the game at 2. The Eagles, however, couldn't come up with a tie-breaking hit that could have swung the momentum to the underdogs.
That left the door open for Fossil Ridge (22-1) to reclaim the momentum. By the end of the third inning, the Sabercats had opened up a 6-2 lead and weren't threatened the rest of the game, cranking out four home runs and following that with a 19-4 win over Eaglecrest that put them in the semifinals for the first time in school history.
"We should have had five or six runs in that inning," Warhoe said. "We didn't take advantage there."
Still, Pine Creek enjoyed a landmark season. The Eagles won the Colorado Springs Metro League title, then rallied to earn the region's second 5A state berth last week by avenging an earlier setback to Fort Collins in an elimination game.
"Last year, we felt lucky to get to regionals, and this year, we came in and kind of squeaked into state," Warhoe said. "We'll get there. We have four freshmen and five sophomores, so we should be set for next year and beyond."