AURORA — Erie has won the state softball title every way possible.
The Tigers have run the table, blown out teams, shut out hopefuls and eked out titles.
Now they can add perfection to that list.
The Tigers won their sixth consecutive Class 3A title Saturday and seventh in eight years with a performance that cemented their legacy. Senior Holly Jordan mowed down the Holy Family Tigers, beating the fourth different bridesmaid in their remarkable stretch with a perfect game, 2-0, at the Aurora Sports Park.
“Coming out and having a perfect game, that’s every pitcher’s dream,” said Jordan, who, along with the other four seniors, leave the program with a state championship in each of their high school seasons. “It’s something I can always look back on, that I threw a perfect game in my last game.”
Holy Family never had a chance against Erie. From the first pitch, Jordan was dominant. The closest Holy Family (18-6) came to a hit was when leadoff hitter Lara Mathewson flew out to deep centerfield in the first inning, and to even deeper centerfield to lead off the seventh inning. Both times, freshman Ashlie Ortega made the play.
“It was pretty close,” Ortega said of the seventh-inning drive. “It was about a foot and half away from the fence. I wouldn’t have cared if I went through the fence; I just wanted to catch the ball.”
Had it not been for Mathewson, Holy Family wouldn’t have had hit a ball out of the infield. Jordan struck out 12 of the 21 batters she faced, including striking out the side in the third and sixth innings.
Erie head coach Bob Bledsoe has seen Jordan pitch some great games, including a perfect game against Lyons last year, but not in this big of a situation.
“In her storied history, I guess, but not in the title game,” said Bledsoe, whose Erie teams have now won 24 straight state games — a Colorado state record — and 31 overall, two behind Arvada West.
The Tigers (20-4) still reign in 3A because they took advantage of their few opportunities. In the first inning, Jordan singled with two outs and scored when Holy Family center fielder Brittany Baker dropped Janay Rahrich’s fly ball. In the second inning, senior Brittany Madrid reached on an error and came home on senior Sam Welch’s single.
After that, Jordan took over. She shook off the three-run rally Limon had in the semifinal game earlier in the day — the first runs the Tigers surrendered since Sept. 13 — and dominated Holy Family. Even though Erie had only a 2-0 lead, it was secure with Jordan pitching.
As the game moved into the later innings, Jordan didn’t run from the idea of a perfect game. Instead, she embraced it.
“The last couple of innings, I said, ‘I have to keep my head in there. It’s a perfect game; I can’t lose it.’ It was important for me and my teammates,” she said.
Her teammates didn’t remind Jordan of her perfect game, preferring to let her stay in the zone.
“We just didn’t want to say anything,” Welch said. “We knew we had to play and let Holly do her thing.”
The only blemish on the weekend was the game against Limon on Saturday morning, but it was a minor one. The Tigers jumped to a 7-0 lead before poor defense gave the Badgers hope. Limon scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth, but the Tigers added a couple of insurance runs in the seventh to secure the 9-3 win.
“Everybody was nervous for Limon, but once we beat Limon we were pumped,” Ortega said.
Holy Family was soaring after its dramatic 5-0, nine-inning win over Roosevelt in the other semifinal, but that feeling lasted as long as Jordan’s first pitch of the title game.
Jordan now is one of two Erie pitchers to pitch and win two state title games — the other was Joanna Brozovich in 2001 and 2002 — and she is in the discussion as the best pitcher in Tiger history.
“She’s right there,” Bledsoe said. “I won’t compare them, but we’ve had four or five and she’s every bit as good as all of them.”
She’s more than that. She’s perfect.