The Legend softball team lost the first battle to go to state to Castle View 5-4, then took 30 minutes to regroup on Oct. 12 before rolling to a 12-0 win over Rocky Mountain for the other state berth from regionals.
“It was a disappointing loss to Castle View but, once it was over, you have to learn how to come back from failure and move on,” Shelly Boyd, Titans coach, said after the second game. “Our seniors stepped in and got our players fired up for the game against Rocky Mountain by stressing it was a do-or-die situation, and our girls really responded.”
She said she'll take advantage of the week's practices to work to correct some mistakes that happened during regionals.
“The practice will get us ready for the tournament,” the coach said. “We don't know who we will play yet and we really don't care because we are going to state.”
The Titans come into the tournament as the seventh seed and play Grandview in the first round of the Oct. 18-19 state 16-team tournament.
Legend and Grandview each have 17-5 season records, and they will meet in the first-round game at 12:15 p.m. Oct. 18 on a Complex C diamond at the Aurora Sports Complex, 19300 E. Colfax Ave.
The Oct. 12 regional tournament used a four-team format to determine two state qualifiers.
Legend got off to a good start by using solid defense and timely hitting to best Pomona, 6-2.
The victory moved the Titans into the game against league rival Castle View to determine one of the state qualifiers.
Legend got the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning, but Castle View tied it up in top of the second on a solo home run.
The score was tied again at 4-4 until the Sabercats scored a run and held on to win 5-4.
After a short break, the Titans took the field against Rocky Mountain, which advanced to the contest by besting Pomona 8-5.
Legend got three runs in the first inning and added three more in the bottom of the second that included Kaley Garcia's double that drove in a pair of runs. The Titans added six more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning that included a solo home run by Brittney Russo and went on to win the game and the state tournament berth, 12-0.
Janelle Gardner went the distance on the mound for the Titans in all three games. When asked how her arm felt after the pitching marathon, she simply said she was hanging in there.
“I have been pitching softball since I was 7,” the junior said. “I tried playing in the field and I was bored so I decided to learn to pitch. I work regularly with a pitching coach to try to keep getting better, because I hope to go on to play college softball.”
She said, when she faces batters, she watches where they stand and tries to throw the ball where they can't hit it hard.
“I throw a drop ball and my best pitch is a change-up,” Gardner said. “I throw a fastball but sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. My coach and I are working to help me throw that pitch better.”