Eaton softball won when it mattered

Eaton softball took University down 9-1 and were crowned 3A state champions

Once the dust settled at Aurora Sports Park after the state championship game, one thing was true, Eaton softball were state champions once again. For the second time in three years,

Eaton softball was once again crowned number one in 3A. In 2020 Eaton softball won state, beating the Lutheran Lions 5-1. The season wasn’t as rocky in 2020;, Eaton softball cruised to a state championship. This year, though, Eaton softball went through it all. Before the season started, the team learned, they would be without pitcher Sadie Ross (24) as she tore her ACL again. The injuries didn’t stop there though. Eaton softball would soon be down to one pitcher as Stephanie Bingley (24) would not be able to pitch due to a bicep injury.

This season Eaton softball had many doubters, and many thought Eaton was not going to get it done this year. The Reds all throughout the season were perfect on some occasions, but not so perfect on other occasions.

Nobody in 3A softball would have predicted that Eaton Softball would come out on top this year. In season play, University tossed Eaton aside 7-1. Eaton softball was not nearly as dominant as they had been in previous years, but their imperfections led them to eventually lift the beautiful state champion trophy. 

The Reds had a rocky season and were not consistent on some occasions. Despite the doubters, Eaton softball won regionals and were able to book a spot at Aurora Sports Park. The Reds shined on the first Friday of the tournament, showing real toughness and grit to beat La Junta 5-4 and Fort Lupton 11-1 in games that showed what the Reds season really was. A tough battle-worn team that won when it mattered. Coach Shaw said it best, “Good teams win ugly.” Eaton softball advanced to the championship game.

On championship Saturday, the Reds stepped up when it mattered most. Eaton softball looked like a team no one had seen all year until now. Julia Meagher (24) pitched 27 innings over the course of four  tournament games. In past history for Eaton softball, especially during tournament time, Eaton would take two pitchers to swap out over the duration of the tournament to avoid fatigue.

This year was different, Meagher would be the lone pitcher to lead Eaton to glory, so she had to step up. Meagher pitched 27 innings and only allowed for three earned runs to score.

Meagher stepped up perfectly and arguably led Eaton softball to the eventual crowning. Meagher said,“It wasn’t easy having to not only physically throw 27 innings, but mentally pitch that many innings. I knew that my way of leading the team was through my pitching, so I gave my full effort and trusted that my team would have my back.”

The Reds managed to get past a tough game against Thomas Jefferson in the semi-final. Stephanie Bingley (24) hit a home run to move the score to 2-0 Eaton. Eaton gave a tough defensive display, only allowing two runs.

The Reds offense was not as efficient as it had been previously, but the offense managed to bring three runs in. The Reds held their breath in the semis as Meagher gave a pitching display that locked Thomas Jefferson softball down. Thomas Jefferson’s road would end there as the Reds advanced to the state championship game against University.

 University was a familiar opponent for the Reds as last year University took the Reds out in the state semifinals just a year before this game. The Reds were ready after countless huddles and talks of “we would beat UH when it mattered.” Senior Zoe Lampe got the Reds started with a base hit on the first pitch. Lampe would later go 3/3 at bat.

In the championship game, the Reds caught fire. The floodgates were open in the seventh inning when many infield errors from the Bulldogs gave the Reds an eight point lead. The Bulldogs never got rolling and broke down on defense when the game was on the line. The Reds were perfect, holding UH to only one run. The Reds got their last three outs of the season and ended the Bulldogs’ hopes of a state championship title. 

A red sea of players enveloped out into the field when junior- Ayla Ritchey made the game winning catch. Every Eaton softball player jumped for joy and couldn’t wait to get their hands on a state championship trophy. 

The Reds had done it. A season of ups and downs had led to this one game where the Reds were perfect in a season where they maybe were not perfect every single game. That didn’t matter though.

All that mattered was the Reds were state champions again. The Reds were perfectly, imperfect. A 3A underdog team proved once again to all doubters and non-believers that the Reds were back where they belonged: as 3A state softball champions.