AURORA — Columbine softball coach Jim Santaniello experienced what it feels like to lose a Class 5A state championship game Saturday, Oct. 23, at Aurora Sports Park. Two years ago, Santaniello was …
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AURORA — Columbine softball coach Jim Santaniello experienced what it feels like to lose a Class 5A state championship game Saturday, Oct. 23, 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.
Saturday, the Rebels took their 18-game winning streak into the 5A title game against Legend. The Titans proved to be too much for the 5A Jeffco League champ. Legend cruised to an 8-0 victory to force Columbine into settling for the state runner-up trophy.
“This run has been amazing,” Columbine senior Emma Todd said. “We have worked so hard over the last three years, especially this group of seniors. I know we are sad right now, but what a great opportunity. This means everything. Only two teams in 5A made it this far.”
It’s the second state title appearance for Columbine over 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 during the COVID shortened season and didn’t qualify for the postseason, but were right back in the thick of the state contenders with a 25-4 record.
“It proves that we belong with the elite teams,” Santaniello said. “More importantly we have such a strong culture here. Our girls really play the game the right way. Win, lose or draw. There is no other team I’d rather go into battle with.”
The Rebels battled through a tough non-league schedule that included just three losses. Columbine dropped games to Horizon (5A No. 1 seed and state semifinalist), Holy Family (4A state champion) and Legend (5A state champion).
“From last year to this year we’ve show we’ve improved a lot,” Columbine junior Araya Ogden said. “We had the spirit and coaching.”
Ogden stepped into the pitching role over the past two seasons and threw an impressive shutout against defending 5A state champion Fossil Ridge in the 5A state semifinal game Saturday morning in Aurora.
The junior said she will turn the loss to Legend into a positive.
“This will for sure motivate me,” Ogden said. “I want to come back next year and win it all.”
The nine seniors Columbine will lose to graduation leave with a combined 4-year varsity record of 80-17 that includes three 20-plus win seasons.
“Our goal was to get here (state). Our motto has been climbing the mountain,” Todd said. “Climbing to league, regionals and state. This is huge. The 2019 team was amazing, but this year proves how this program is strong and will just keep getting stronger.”
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.
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