The sign of a dominant program in any sport is not to rebuild, but to reload and Legacy softball is no exception, as the six-time state champion Dawn Gaffin enters her 21st season at the helm for the …
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The sign of a dominant program in any sport is not to rebuild, but to reload and Legacy softball is no exception, as the six-time state champion Dawn Gaffin enters her 21st season at the helm for the Lady Lightning.
Losing three-straight years in the 5A state tournament to eventual champions Cherokee Trail and Legend (twice), Gaffin hopes the depth of her program will have her team in the running to be at the top of the state once again.
As five seniors (Morgan Hernandez-Belew, Kiara Pfeifer, Logan Taylor, Isabella Kelly, and Lauren Strathearn) left the program after a 22-5 season and the school’s first Front Range League championship since 2013 (11-0 in conference), the motto of `next woman up’ doesn’t change.
“All of them (seniors) were starters and had been starters for a long time,” Gaffin said in a phone interview. “So, it’s definitely a big dent, but we had a very talented freshman group come in last year that I think can step up and fill those shoes. We will be competitive again. We are just going to reload.”
The reloading of the roster will be tested, however, early and often for the Lady Lightning. Stepping forward to take on top competition from in and out of conference, Gaffin and her coaching staff want to take on the significant challenges to prepare her team for the long haul.
“Our schedule ranks as the toughest in the state because not only do we have the Front Range League to contend with, we have the likes of Cherokee Trail, Legend, Brighton and Rock Canyon. I look at who made it to the Sweet 16, and that’s who we go get. We figure we have to beat them by the end of the year, so we better start playing them during the regular season. Knowing that we are being prepared and knowing how to compete with the best of the best in the state, on a weekly basis, it helps all of us. Another reason why we went out to get the toughest schedule that we could is so that our girls understand this is what you have to do to win this whole thing. That is our goal every year, ever since I have started here at Legacy. Why else do you play?”
Seven seniors return headlined by the battery of pitcher Hannah Farley (Colorado State commit), catcher Samantha Conradie and centerfielder Riley Olson up the middle. Dictating flow and leadership from these three could prove crucial to the success and growth of the younger players that may include six sophomores on the roster. The veteran manager also credits her assistants John Waller, Melissa Truett, Shae Haifley and JV manager Heather Long on the development of the younger players in the program.
“My JV coach (Long) did an amazing job of preparing these freshman to step in as sophomores into those big shoes (that the seniors leave) because we knew we would have to. I have to give kudos to my other lower-level coaches for feeding the program and allowing our varsity team to reload every year.”
Winning five-straight titles from 2007-2011 and their last coming in 2013, Legacy hopes to add to their trophy case once again this year.
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