Columbine softball ready to make another title run pitch

Dennis Pleuss, Jeffco Public Schools
Posted 9/11/23

Patience has paid off for Columbine pitcher Liz Phillips.

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Columbine softball ready to make another title run pitch


Patience has paid off for Columbine pitcher Liz Phillips.

The senior has been waiting in the wings to be the No. 1 pitcher for the Rebels’ softball program that has played in the Class 5A state championship game three times over the past four seasons — winning the state title in 2019 and 2022.

“It is defintely different from last year,” said Phillips, who pitched just under 25 innings with a 2.27 ERA last season as a junior. “I think I pitched in four or five games. Now I’ll be pitching in almost every single one.”

Araya Ogden was Columbine ace the last three years racking up an impressive 45-4 record in the circle over the past two years. Ogden had a 0.89 ERA last season during the Rebels’ run to the state championship.

With the graduation of Ogden, it’s Phillips’s turn.

“She (Phillips) has been very, very impressive,” Columbine coach Jim Santaniello said. “She had to have a lot of patience through her high school career. Now it is her time to be in the sun. She has completely exceeded expectations. We think she will just get strong as the season goes along.”

Phillips had a 4-0 record in limited action on the hill last season. She made it a point to work hard during the off-season to solidify her spot as the Rebels’ ace. She switched pitching coaches over the off-season to Mike Forsythe — pitching coach for Florida International University.

“It has helped me improve so much,” Phillips said of working with Forsythe. “My spins are so much better. My pitches move more. My rise ball has changed. Everything is working great.”

Through Sept. 8, Phillips had a 10-1 record with a 2.82 ERA for the Rebels that were No. 5 in the Class 5A softball CHSAA Seeding Index heading into the final day of the Dave Sanders Memorial Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 9.

“I think Liz is going amazing,” Columbine senior catch Eva Martinez said. “She has been my best friend for a while. She is an amazing competitor, super smart and hard on herself. She knows what she is doing.”

Columbine went 3-0 in pool play with victories over Golden, Mountain Vista and Central of Grand Junction. The Rebels were scheduled to face Eaglecrest in the semifinals of the Diamond Bracket at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at Aurora Sports Park.

“We are looking forward to playing that elite competition,” Santaniello said. “That is what is going to get us to that next level and prepare us for league.”

The Rebels return the majority of starters from last year’s squad. The core of youth includes sophomores Livi Keiter, Nina Vargas and Mason Abraham that will anchor a strong defensive infield with junior Ana Lovato at second base as well.

“That is the foundation of this team, real strong defense even going back to last year,” Santaniello said. “Whenever you have great defense you are always in the game.”

Columbine did get a good challenge from Mountain Vista on the morning game Friday. The Golden Eagles scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to cut Columbine’s lead to 6-4, but the Rebels got out of the jam with a strikeout-throw out to end the inning.

Phillips stuck out Kenzie Ezzell and Martinez threw out Lily Oss trying to steal second.

“It was kind of a boom-boom thing,” Martinez said of the strikeout-throw out to end the bottom of the sixth inning. “Liz and I both did our jobs. That was crucial at that point.”

Phillips helped out her own cause going 3-for-3 from the plate which included a 2-run home run in the third inning from her No. 8 hole position in the line-up.

“I feel like all of us are really good,” Phillips said of the Rebels’ line-up offensive. “When one person is off somebody else is going to be on. It’s a good mix.”

Columbine will be in the mix to win its fifth 5A Jeffco League title over the past six seasons. The Rebels open conference play Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Arvada

West High School. The Wildcats (12-2) were No. 2 in the 5A CHSAA Seeding Index to start the weekend.

Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to

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