As teams get deeper in the 2022 softball season, there is a constant battle for the title of best in the state, especially in Class 5A where the top teams seem to be playing at their peak.

Class 5A

If this was the 5A team power rankings, there’d need to be wild disclaimers and long, run-on sentences explaining why who is here, who is there, clouding fact and opinion, opinion and illusion.

But for those who hate commas: It’s anyone’s guess who the best in 5A is right now.

The up-in-air outlook isn’t strange in the fact that it’s just two weeks into the season, but it’s also sorta kinda strange because in that small window of time so many of 5A’s top teams already have a blip in their record.

Defending champ Legend (the team that is No. 1 on CHSAA’s latest rankings) as well as No. 3 Fossil Ridge, No. 4 Horizon and No. 5 Arvada West have already suffered a loss in non-league play.

No. 2 Columbine remains undefeated, but has only logged two games, while No. 10 Douglas County is the only other undefeated inside the top-10, sitting at 4-0.

So here’s where we are: In a matchup of 2021 Final Four teams, Fossil Ridge’s Brooklynn Cardenas outdueled Cameron Ponich in the Sabercats’ 3-2 win on Saturday. Cardenas scattered seven hits and allowed one earned run while striking out five. Ponich, who recently announced her commitment to the University of North Florida, gave up three runs and punched out 10.

Two days prior, Fossil Ridge had been blanked by pitcher Araya Ogden and Columbine. Horizon, meanwhile, after beating Rock Canyon in nine innings to open the season, lost to Chatfield in its second game. Arvada West fell to Douglas County to drop to 4-1 on the year.

Individually, Eaglecrest second baseman Maddie Demoss is hitting .727 through three games and has four home runs, blasting three bombs in a 22-7 win over Brighton. Valor Christian’s Elizabeth Canales has three homers, driving in one in each of her last two games. And Erie’s Gracie Sackett currently has more strikeouts (35) than she’s allowed hits (nine), runs (two) and walks (15) combined. The Tigers, who moved up from 4A this season, are 5-3 and have outscored their last four opponents 55-2.

Class 4A

Like a dribbler just past the mound, Holy Family’s title defense got off to a weak start in 2022, falling in back-to-back games to open the season against the new cool thing in 4A, No. 1 Lutheran, and 5A No. 7 Valor Christian.

But phenom pitcher Isabella Arroyo has helped put the No. 2 Tigers back on track.

The sophomore tossed a no-hitter against No. 9 Elizabeth last week and followed it up with sparkling outings against No. 7 Pueblo South and No. 5 Mead.

As part of her first career no-no in high school, Arroyo struck out 11 and walked two. Then in the top-five matchup against Mead, she allowed four hits and one run while fanning eight. She also drove in both her team’s runs in a 2-1 victory.

Arroyo’s start to the year comes after she led Holy Family to its third title in four years. Her catcher, Abby Edwards, was named 4A player of the year.

Speaking of POYs, 3A’s best from 2021, Hailey Maestretti, is having another stellar start to the season.

The Lutheran junior threw one-hitters over Northfield and Pueblo East over the past week, totaling 22 strikeouts in 11 innings as the Lions improved to 4-0.

Maestretti now holds a 0.84 ERA with 43 Ks in 25 innings pitched. She’s held opposing batters to a .132 average.

Among games to monitor over the next week. No. 4 Windsor will put its 3-0 start to the test against Holy Family Tuesday. The Wizards have wins over Mead, 5A. 8 Broomfield and Silver Creek.

Elsewhere, No. 3 Riverdale Ridge will face 3A No. 1 Eaton twice over the next two weeks. The Ravens host the Reds on Aug. 26 and play them at the Northern Colorado Showcase Tournament Sept. 3.

Class 3A

Speaking of Eaton, and not talking about lunch or dinner, the Reds have shown no signs of dropping their No. 1 ranking in the classification.

Moving to 5-0 this week, Stephanie Bingley logged her 10th RBI of the season and pitcher Julia Meagher won her third straight decision.

At the Eaton Extravaganza Tournament, the Reds won four times, which included a nine-inning victory over No. 4 Lamar, a 10-run win over 10th-ranked La Junta and victory over No. 6 Limon behind a home run and three RBIs from Blayke Duncan.

No. 2 University is off to a rockier start as it fell twice over the past week, dropping games to Lamar and 4A Riverdale Ridge. Addison Harding has both her team’s home runs this season and has driven in eight in 24 plate appearances.

No. 3 Strasburg moved to 6-0 with quality wins over Lamar and 4A No. 9 Elizabeth. Ace Heidi Price has allowed just six earned runs in 25 innings, striking out 25 while walking just two.

Across the rest of the classification, The Academy’s Isabella Bruntz moved to 6-0 this week on the mound. She has a 0.28 ERA in 25 innings pitched and has struck out 55 batters.

At the plate, Bruntz’s teammate MacKenzie Pearson has driven in 15 runs in only 18 plate appearances, while Jefferson Academy’s Kylie Fullerton and Wiley’s Kara Wilson have 13 RBIs in 14 tries. Wiley freshman Dixie Bitner, in the meantime, has three home runs in four games.