Columbine senior Araya Ogden won the 50th game of her high school career during her regional tournament —also drove in her 60th RBI — all setting the stage for the top-ranked Rebels and their biggest star for this weekend’s state tournament.

Ogden’s Rebels will be among the true state title favorites when the Class 5A-3A tournaments open at Aurora Sports Park Friday. All first rounds and quarterfinals games are scheduled for Day 1, with semifinals and finals following Saturday.

This week, we look at the title favorites and their best challengers from each classification.

Class 5A

Favorite: No. 1 Columbine Rebels (24-1).

Their case: It’s Ogden. Case closed. Dismiss the jury.

At least it’s felt that way. The Gatorade Player of the Year candidate is 20-1 on the mound, hitting .558 with 32 RBIs and seven home runs.

With her out front, the Rebels ran through a tough schedule this fall, winning 24 of their 25 games. They come into the tournament 9-1 against the 5A field. They’d won 19 straight before their lone loss of the year, a 2-0 defeat to No. 2 Douglas County on Oct. 4.

The Rebels face No. 16 Lakewood in the opening round. They beat the Tigers 12-5 on Sept. 19.

Other favorite: No. 3 Legend Titans (20-5).

Their case: The Titans have won the state title three of the last five years, including last fall when they were a four seed and beat Ogden and Columbine 8-0 in the final.

Hard to bet against.

Other than that, the winners of the 5A Continental League have an ace with championship pedigree in Cameron Ponich (14-5, 1.11 ERA). She allowed as much as three earned runs in an appearance just once this season.

They are 8-3 against teams in the state field, with wins over No. 2 Douglas County, No. 5 Chatfield, among others. They face No. 14 Fruita Monument for the first time since 2012 in the opening round.

Challenger: No. 4 Erie Tigers

Their case: The Tigers have won 21 straight and haven’t lost to a team from Colorado this season.

They’re led by arguably the best 1-2 pitching tandem in the state in Gracie Sackett (12-0 0.61 ERA) and Matix Hull (7-0, 0.38 ERA).

Coach Tobin EchoHawk likes to use both of them in big games, mixing Hull’s pinpoint accuracy with the flamethrowing velocity of Sackett. Teams haven’t adjusted to it so far.

Erie faces No. 13 ThunderRidge in the opening round.

Class 4A

Favorite: Lutheran Lions (24-1)

Their case: The Lions won 43 straight games over a season and a half, finally falling to Windsor in the middle of September. The lone blemish since 2020.

Besides that, they are 5-1 against the 4A field this fall and have wins over 5A state teams in No. 3 Legend and No. 11 Arvada West.

They have a 4A player of the year candidate in Hailey Maestretti, who is 23-1 with a 1.15 ERA and is hitting .568 with eight homers.

They face No. 16 Conifer in the opening round.

Other favorite: Holy Family Tigers (21-4)

Their case: Losing much of the punch from their state title team from last fall, the winners of three of the last four 4A titles had mixed results early in the fall. They lost to No. 1 Lutheran, No. 3 Windsor, 5A Valor Christian, and most surprisingly, Brighton (which finished under .500).

But that loss to the Bulldogs on Sept. 9 may have been a wake-up call. They haven’t lost since.

Isabella Arroyo (10-2 1.12 ERA, .541 BA with 19 RBIs) is a marvelous two-way star. Kaylee McDonald is having a breakout junior season, hitting a team-best .548 with 22 runs driven in.

The Tigers open with No. 15 Palmer Ridge.

Challenger: No. 6 Mead Mavericks (16-8)

Their case: Whoever is going to upend Lutheran or Holy Family will need a sensational performance from the circle. Could it be someone like Joslynn Veltien?


The Mead ace has allowed just two earned runs over her last 44 innings. Mary Kathryn Dusza can help her cause, hitting .462 with 34 runs driven in.

Mead opens with No. 11 Pueblo West.

Class 3A

Favorite: No. 1 Strasburg Indians (22-3)

Their case: The Indians outscored teams 263-64 this season, with an offense led by Graecyn Graf (.578 BA, 39 RBIs), Kailey Rushman (.429, 36) and Heidi Price (.526, 34).

Price is also 14-3 in the circle with a 1.71 ERA.

Their three losses this fall came against No. 3 University, No. 4 Eaton and No. 11 Weld Central. They’re 10-0 against the rest of the field.

Strasburg opens with No. 16 Lyons.

Other favorite: No. 2 Brush Beetdiggers (20-3)

The Beetdiggers are 9-2 against the 3A state field and are led by an offense that has scored 10 or more runs in 15 of their 23 games.

Brisa Aguirre-Garcia is hitting .536 with 35 RBIs and Karly Tadolini is batting .500 with 31 runs driven in.
Brush faces No. 15 Peak to Peak in the opening round.

Challenger: No. 3 University Bulldogs (20-6)

In a span of a week in late September, the Bulldogs lost to No. 2 Brush, then beat No. 4 Eaton 7-1, and No. 1 Strasburg 10-9 in 11 innings.

They come into the tournament on a nine-game winning streak, much of it because of a fantastic freshmen pitching tandem in Jasi Cole and Sydney Goetzel.

Addison Harding has also pitched solid innings, but her biggest contribution is with her bat. She is hitting .524 with 36 RBIs.

The Bulldogs, who have outscored teams 63-3 in October, open with No. 14 Resurrection Christian.