Columbine Softball Program Transitions to Elite Status

AURORA – Columbine softball coach Jim Santaniello experienced what it is like to lose a Class 5A State Championship game on Saturday afternoon at Aurora Sports Park.

Two years ago, Santaniello was on the other side of the coin in a 7-1 victory over Fossil Ridge to win the 5A State Tournament.

On Saturday, the Rebels recorded their 18-game winning streak in the 5A title game against Legend. The Titans proved too much for 5A champion Jeffco League. Legend picked up an 8-0 victory to force Columbine to settle for the state runner-up trophy.

“This race has been amazing,” said Emma Todd, senior from Columbine. “We have worked so hard over the past three years, especially this group of seniors. I know we are sad right now, but what a great opportunity. It means everything. Only two 5A teams have made it so far.

This is the second state title appearance for Columbine in the past three seasons. The Rebels went 27-2 in 2019 to win the program‘s first state softball title. Columbine went 8-8 last year in COVID’s shortened season and didn’t advance to the playoffs, but was back in the midst of the state’s contenders with a 25-4 record.

“It just goes to show that we belong to the elite teams,” said Santaniello. “Most importantly, we have such a strong culture here. Our girls are really playing the game the right way. Win, lose or draw. There is no other team that I would rather fight with.

The Rebels fought through a tough non-league schedule that included just three losses. Columbine has dropped out of games against Horizon (No.1 seed 5A and State Semifinals), Holy Family (State champion 4A) and Legend (State champion 5A).

“From last year to this year we have shown that we have improved a lot,” said junior Columbine Araya Ogden. “We had the spirit and the guidance.

Ogden stepped into the pitcher’s role for the past two seasons and threw an impressive shutout against defending 5A State champion Fossil Ridge in the 5A State semi-final game on Saturday morning in Aurora. .

The junior said she would turn the loss to Legend into a positive.

“It will definitely motivate me,” Ogden said. “I want to come back next year and win it all.”

The nine Columbine seniors will lose on graduation leave with a combined college record of 80-17 that includes three seasons of 20+ wins.

“Our goal was to get here (state). Our motto has been to climb the mountain, ”said Todd. “I go up in league, regional and state. It’s a huge one. The 2019 squad was amazing, but this year proves how strong this program is and will continue to get stronger. “

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