AURORA – Challenges have a way of building character. But for Eaton, the challenges of the 2022 softball season built a championship.

The loss of Sadie Ross and a four-game losing streak early in the season wasn’t enough to slow the team down. And the result of their continued faith was a 9-1 over University to capture the Class 3A state softball championship. It’s the second state title in school history and the second in the last three seasons.

“(Losing Side) was a downer,” coach Dale Hughes said. “For these girls to believe that we could still do this, we had to get that self-confidence built. We had to play that tough schedule.”

Part of their tough schedule was the league schedule which included a regular season showdown with University. The Bulldogs won the game 7-1, but rather than be bummed out over a league championship potentially getting away from them, they took the loss as a learning moment.

And they were able to use what they learned at the most important time of the year.

“We learned how to pitch to them,” Julia Meagher said. “And we learned what their weaknesses are and how to attack them. Jumping on them early was what was key in this.”

(Dan Mohrmann/

Eaton (22-7 overall) got on the board with a RBI-single from Stephanie Bingley that scored Zoe Lampe. They got two more runs across the plate in the third inning to build the lead to 3-0 which made the team more comfortable, but not quite content.

“That always helps,” Hughes said. “Scoring first is always helpful in all sports. In football it helps to go out and get the lead quickly rather than play from behind. That got us a little loose and the energy in our dugout was fantastic.”

The Bulldogs (23-7) scored their lone run of the game in the fourth inning as Jasi Cole drove in Taryn Kravig who was courtesy running for Sydney Gretzel.

But no further damage was done and Eaton was able to tack on additional runs in the later innings.

Eaton got a scare in the first round of the tournament as it held off La Junta 5-4. It cruised to an 11-1 win over Fort Lupton then edged a Thomas Jefferson team that was fresh off an upset win over No. 1 Strasburg.

It was a tough road leading up to the state tournament and to get through the state tournament. But when the final out was made, Eaton was the team hoisting the gold. It was something they believed they could do, even if they thought no one else did.

“Everyone looked at our losses and didn’t think that we could do it,” Meagher said. “It feels so good to prove everyone wrong.”

And it probably feels even better to prove themselves right.