AURORA — Golden softball team’s ultimate goal of claiming the program’s first state softball title came up one win short. The Demons battled to the end, making it all the way to the Class 4A …
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AURORA — Golden softball team’s ultimate goal of claiming the program’s first state softball title came up one win short.
The Demons battled to the end, making it all the way to the Class 4A state championship game Oct. 26 at Aurora Sports Park. It was the first appearance in the title game since 1995 for Golden. However, Erie ended the dream by taking a 13-9 victory in extra innings.
“It was exactly what we expected,” Golden coach Chad Herbers said of the extra-inning seesaw battle with Erie. “We had our opportunities. I can’t be more proud of what we did to make this an extra-inning ballgame.”
A 5-run top of the second inning by the Tigers, who claimed the program’s 12th state softball title since 1998, grabbed a commanding early lead. Golden (26-3 record) continue to chip away.
The Demons’ 3-run bottom of the fourth inning tied the game at 6-6. Golden lost the lead again, but scored a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to send the title game inning extra innings knotted at 9-9.
“I’m really proud of my teammates. We played together as a team this whole tournament,” Golden senior Makenzie Middleton said. “It wasn’t just this game. We kept on playing for and with each other. That was so amazing.”
Golden needed a walk-off RBI single by junior Marla Goodspeed in the bottom of the inning in the tournament opener against rival Evergreen on Oct. 25.
Erie managed a pair of two-run home runs in the top of the eighth inning to take a 13-9 lead. The Demons couldn’t fire up any more extra-inning magic.
“It comes to that abrupt stop,” Herbers said of the conclusion of the season. “They are already starting to talk about how we keep this rolling throughout the years and feed this energy to other (Golden) programs. Let’s keep the Golden community pushing forward.”
The Demons’ softball program pushed further than it had in more than two decades. Golden lost to Pueblo County in the 4A title game in 1995. That was the last time the Demons had advanced to a state softball championship game.
“It was so amazing,” Goodspeed said through tears after the loss. “This was by far the best team not only talent wise, but how close we were as a team.”
Senior Emma Graham was a workhorse in the circle for the Demons. She pitched 184 innings and finished with a 2.66 ERA. Then there were the Middleton twins.
Makenzie and Makayla Middleton put up some incredible offensive numbers. The identical twins finished combing for 36 home runs, 116 RBIs and 148 hits over 29 games. Makayla finished with a state high 19 home runs on the season, including four dingers during the two-day state tournament.
“You just have to enjoy it as it lasts. It goes so fast,” Makenzie said giving advice to current and future high school athletes. “You have so many great friends from this experience. You will never forget what happens out here. Leave it all on the field and never regret anything you do.”
Golden graduates five starters from team that put their stamp on the program from years to come.
“We are definitely going to miss our six seniors,” Goodspeed said. “It’s going to be hard to replace them, but our young kids know that they need to work hard and they can make it here too.”
Herbers has guided the Demons to 100 victories and winning records since the 2014 season. Along with back-to-back 20 win seasons.
“We have made every single step and continued to get better,” Herbers said of the Demons’ run that included back-to-back 4A Jeffco League title over the past two seasons. “This team is amazing.”
Wheat Ridge dominated Rifle for a 15-3 victory in the opening round of the Class 4A state tournament.
However, the Farmers (21-6 record) couldn’t rally after Silver Creek scored eight unanswered runs in the middle innings of the state quarterfinal game. Coach Jamie Heflin should be back in state contention next season after graduating just one senior.
Dennis Pleuss is a media specialist for Jeffco Public Schools with a focus on athletics and activities. For more Jeffco coverage, go online at CHSAANow.com
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