Softball: Grandview finds different world coming back as defending 5A state champions

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Grandview softball players, from left, Alex Velazquez, Jordyn McDaniel, Courtney Browne, Sophie Herrera, Sydni Odegard and Terran Caldwell pose Aug. 18, 2015, at Grandview High School. The Wolves return a good chunk of players from the team that won last season's Class 5A state championship — the first in program history — and is expected to challenge again in 2015. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)
Grandview softball players, from left, Alex Velazquez, Jordyn McDaniel, Courtney Browne, Sophie Herrera, Sydni Odegard and Terran Caldwell pose Aug. 18, 2015, at Grandview High School. The Wolves return a good chunk of players from the team that won last season’s Class 5A state championship — the first in program history — and is expected to challenge again in 2015. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

Overshadowed in softball for quite some time, Grandview struck a blow for the Centennial League by winning last season’s Class 5A state championship.

With a background at 4A powerhouse Wheat Ridge, coach Dave Thies had aspirations to build the Wolves into a title winner at some point when he took over in 2013.

It turned out it took just three seasons, as Grandview caught fire at the right time and not only got past the first day of the 5A state softball tournament — a bugaboo for the program in years past — but finished it off with a 6-2 win over Fossil Ridge at the Aurora Sports Park.

Grandview senior pitcher Courtney Browne has racked up 44 wins in three varsity seasons and made eight starts in the Class 5A state tournament. The right-hander feels she can be even better with more experience with catcher Sydni Odegard. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)
Grandview senior pitcher Courtney Browne has racked up 44 wins in three varsity seasons and made eight starts in the Class 5A state tournament. The right-hander feels she can be even better with more experience with catcher Sydni Odegard. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

“Coming back as defending champions is big for us since nobody expected us to win it last year,” said Thies, who is 53-19 with the Wolves in three seasons. “It was good that we peaked at the time we peaked and the puzzle fell into place. It was amazing, what can I say.”

Indeed things fell together at the end much better than even the Wolves could anticipate, especially after they opened the season 4-4. The start came as a result of a very difficult non-league schedule — one virtually identical to the one they’ll face in 2015 — which came to serve them well in the end.

Timing can be everything when it comes to winning championships.

“It’s really about when things kick in for your team,” senior pitcher Courtney Browne said. “I would say we definitely started off rocky last year, but we started to click and things fell into place at the right time.”

As any softball coach knows, things can only fall into place for a championship run if there’s quality pitching. Thies is thrilled to have one more season with Browne, who owns a 44-15 record with a 2.50 ERA in her three-year varsity career, which includes eight starts in the 5A state tournament.

Browne, a first team All-Centennial League selection last season, believes she can be even better because she enters her second season working with senior catcher Sydni Odegard.

“Last year was the first year my catcher and I were working together and getting to know each other,” Browne said. “From a pitching standpoint, we work well together now and it will definitely be a good thing to have more experience together. Communication is one of the biggest things with a pitcher, catcher and coach.

“Sydni and I see things like which teams stand further off the plate and things like that and it really affects the type of pitches you throw. We just have to make sure everybody is comfortable with the pitch call.”

Grandview junior outfielder Alex Velazquez hit a team-high .471 in 2014 and earned All-Centennial League first team honors. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)
Grandview junior outfielder Alex Velazquez hit a team-high .471 in 2014 and earned All-Centennial League first team honors. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

The graduation of a dynamic left side of the infield in shortstop Emily Supercynski and third baseman Kat Maynard will certainly be felt, but senior Loghan Thomas at second base and sophomore Sophie Herrera, who is expected to move from first base to third base, ease that loss.

Ande Troutman was a key figure in the outfield, but juniors Alex Velazquez (the team’s leading hitter and Grandview’s other returning All-Centennial League first team selection along with Browne) and Terran Caldwell are ready to pick up the slack. Senior Jordyn McDaniel is a versatile holdover.

Thies is eager to see what could happen with this season’s group.

“Usually I’m burnt out and want a break after summer ball, but I’m really excited to get this going again,” he said. “We’re still in celebration mode, but it’s history and now we’re out to create new history. It’s always nice to be able to build on a championship and it’s good for the girls to get that kind of attention.

“It really put Grandview on the map for softball.”

Grandview’s championship run also made other Aurora program believe they have a chance themselves.

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel