No. 7 Elizabeth Cardinals
Game data: No. 10 Pueblo Central (17-9) vs. No. 7 Elizabeth (18-8) … 12:15 p.m. Friday at Aurora Sports Park Complex C. The winner will move on to play a second-round game at 2:30 against either No. 2 Holy Family or No. 15 Mesa Ridge.
Scouting the Wildcats: Pueblo Central punched its ticket to the state tournament with a 6-4 win over Pueblo East in the final qualifying game in the Region 7 tournament. The Wildcats were the highest seed but fell to No. 10 Mead 5-2 in the region title game. Freshman Jada Montoya leads Pueblo Central with 32 RBIs, while junior Brooklyn Ruiz is the Wildcats’ most consistent batter with a .462 batting average and second on the team with 22 RBIs. In the circle Savannah Autobee is 14-6 with a 2.16 ERA and 89 strikeouts.
Scouting the Cardinals: Elizabeth is fresh off a Region 4 championship with a pair of tournament upsets, defeating No. 13 Conifer 7-2 and No. 4 Pueblo County 6-2 as a No. 20 seed. Sophomore Abby Hayes had a home run against County and senior Kylie Pfannestiel threw seven lights-out innings, striking out 16 batters versus Conifer. The Cardinals enter the postseason with a team batting average of .327, led by sophomore Abby Schleisman with 26 RBIs and senior Chloe Wasielewski with a team-best .394 batting average. Pfannestiel has a 4.04 ERA through 16 appearances and 82 strikeouts through 90 innings.
No. 12 Coronado Cougars
Game data: No. 12 Coronado (21-4) vs. No. 5 Silver Creek (20-5) … 10 a.m. Friday at Aurora Sports Park Complex C. The winner will move on to the quarterfinals against either No. 3 Pueblo South or No. 14 Erie at 2:30 p.m.
Scouting the Cougars: Coronado is headed to its first state championship appearance since at least 2009 — the furthest MaxPreps records go back — after nearly doubling its win total from a year ago. After a 12-2 opening win in the Region 5 tournament the Cougars clinched a one-run win to punch their ticket to the 4A tournament. Coronado has four batters batting over .400 and five with 25 or more RBIs. Sophomore Savanah Starr leads with a .494 average and 36 RBIs, followed by Nevaeh Santistevan batting .493. Sophomore Kyla Papenfuss is second on the team with 34 RBIs off 35 hits and is tied with Starr with five home runs. Senior Jenna Ruggaber is the Cougars’ dominant threat in the circle, going 17-4 with six shutouts, two no-hitters and a 3.03 ERA. She also averages nearly two strikeouts per inning. Her 236 Ks leads Class 4A and is third in Colorado.
Scouting the Raptors: Silver Creek stormed through the Region 6 tournament with a pair of shutouts, defeating Air Academy 8-0 and Widefield 12-0 on the way to the region championship. The Raptors are led by junior Maddie Kuehl who has a .589 batting average with 27 RBIs. Freshman Talyn Fordham emerged as the Raptors’ heavy hitter with a team-high seven home runs. Kuehl is also the team’s go-to in the circle with a 15-4 record and 10 shutouts. She has 199 strikeouts in 110 innings and has thrown a perfect game this season.
No. 15 Mesa Ridge Grizzlies
Game data: No. 15 Mesa Ridge (19-7) vs. No. 5 Holy Family (23-1) … 12:15 p.m. Friday at Aurora Sports Park Complex C. The winner will move on to face either No. 7 Elizabeth or No. 10 Pueblo Central at 2:30 p.m.
Scouting the Grizzlies: Mesa Ridge is battle tested after the Region 1 tournament. The Grizzlies opened regional play with a 19-8 win over No. 16 Northridge only to take on No. 1 Golden, falling 5-2 before clinching the final qualifying spot with a 3-2 win over Weld Central. Senior Katrina Robertson is ranked sixth in 4A with a .682 batting average and is second with 53 RBIs. Robertson is followed by four teammates all hitting over .420 with 26 or more RBIs. Kylee Bunnell and Isabella Quintana have 88 and 50 innings in the circle this season, respectively, with Bunnell holding a 10-4 record, and Quintana at 7-3 heading into the postseason. Quintana threw two no-hitters and has a 2.94 ERA, while Bunnell has 73 strikeouts and a 3.16 ERA.
Scouting the Tigers: A 2-1 loss to Columbine is the only blemish on the Tigers’ record this season as Holy Family enters the postseason as the reigning champions. Holy Family is led by two hitters batting over .500, sophomore Abby Edwards (.543) and junior Carly Eldredge (.507). Edwards has 37 RBIs, followed by Jenna Pfenning with 30. In the circle junior Cassidy Chvatal is near perfect with a 13-1 record, four shutouts and a no-hitter. Despite appearing in 15 games she has thrown just 85.2 innings and has 99 strikeouts on the season. Junior Jaelen Giron has nine wins and has thrown 46.1 innings with 42 strikeouts.