AURORA | Down 4-0 to Brighton just one inning into the Class 5A Region 5 championship game, it would have been easy for the Cherokee Trail softball team to see it as the latest thing that might keep them out of the 5A state tournament yet again.
But coach Caley Mitchell’s team banished those thoughts and began to chip away bit by bit against the Bulldogs over the subsequent innings at the Aurora Sports Park and rallied all the way back for a walk-off 6-5 victory.
Sophomore Delanie Cox raced home on a wild pitch to score the winning run and send Cherokee Trail to the 5A state tournament for the first time since 2012. The Cougars — who blanked Pine Creek 15-0 in the regional opener — improved to 18-3 and earned one of the 16 spots in the Oct. 21-22 state tournament at the same location.
Cherokee Trail went into the bottom of the seventh in a tie ballgame with Brighton thanks to defense, as junior second baseman Lexi Gillen threw out Brighton’s Rylie Schmeh at home plate in the top of the inning.
The Cougars’ winning rally started when Cox singled and made it to second on an errant throw. Senior Sonoma Olson dropped a flare into the outfield for another single, with Cox stopping at third.
The Bulldogs intentionally walked Gillen to load the bases, then Brighton pitcher Hailie Litwin launched a pitch that bounced off her catcher and bounded to the backstop, allowing Cox to touch home plate.
Senior pitcher Emily Bell — who threw in Cherokee Trail’s opening — came on early and quelled the Bulldogs’ attack, holding them to just one run in the last six innings to give her team a chance to rally.
Brighton, the No. 14 seed, rebounded from the loss to grab the other state qualifying spot from the region when it downed eighth-seeded Columbine 7-2.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2016 CLASS REGION 5 SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT
Oct. 15 at Aurora Sports Park
Game 1: NO. 3 CHEROKEE TRAIL 15, No. 30 Pine Creek 0; Game 2: No. 14 Brighton 12, No. 19 Columbine 0; Game 3: NO. 3 CHEROKEE TRAIL 6, No. 14 Brighton 5 (CHEROKEE TRAIL qualifies for 5A state tournament); Game 4: No. 19 Columbine 8, No. 30 Pine Creek 3; Game 5: No. 14 Brighton 7, No. 8 Columbine 2 (Brighton qualifies for 5A state tournament)