Ea­gle­crest head­lines top-heavy 5A field

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Kyle New­man Kyle New­man, The Denver Post

Yvette Hen­drian hasn’t had any short­age of suc­cess while coach­ing Ea­gle­crest. The Rap­tors have made the Class 5A state soft­ball tour­na­ment in each of her five sea­sons — and her team, ranked No. 1 in the Denver Post pre­sea­son prep power rank­ings, is loaded again.

But Hen­drian knows full well that with great ex­pec­ta­tions comes an even greater need for her team to tune out the hype in or­der to earn a ti­tle in Oc­to­ber, which, if it hap­pens, would be the pro­gram’s sec­ond over­all and first since 2005.

“We’ve been in this po­si­tion be­fore, and I think the first time we were in this po­si­tion, our fo­cus was a lit­tle dif­fer­ent — it was my sec­ond year of coach­ing here where we had all the tools and had all the tal­ent,” Hen­drian said. “But once again, it comes down to ex­e­cu­tion. This year, I’m tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to fo­cus­ing my play­ers — on one at-bat and pitch at a time in­stead of on the end re­sult.”

Head­lin­ing Ea­gle­crest are a pair of power hit­ters

Power rank­ings

1. Ea­gle­crest 2. Fos­sil Ridge 3. Leg­end 4. Douglas County 5. Legacy 6. Grand­view 7. Cherry Creek 8. Chero­kee Trail 9. Fort Collins 10. Broom­field headed to Divi­sion I col­leges: se­nior first base­man Kai­ley Wil­son (Creighton) and ju­nior short­stop Rachel Sabourin (Hawaii). Wil­son had a mon­strous sum­mer on the club cir­cuit fol­low­ing her re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion from knee surgery that side­lined her for all of last sea­son, while All-Colorado se­lec­tion Sabourin led the Rap­tors with a .567 av­er­age and nine home runs last fall.

Plus, Hen­drian has the luxury of two vet­eran pitch­ers in se­niors Macken­zie Hostetler and Brae­lyn Cren­shaw, who shared time last sea­son while car­ry­ing the Rap­tors to the semi­fi­nals.

“We’re sit­ting pretty good right now, but our main fo­cus is mak­ing sure we don’t get caught up in all the hoopla of be­ing the team with the tar­get on its back,” Hen­drian said. “Macken­zie and Brae­lyn will be our two main arms again, and as a pro­gram, we’re for­tu­nate to have two girls that ev­ery­one com­pletely trusts in the cir­cle.”

But the Rap­tors won’t be the only 5A power with a stacked deck.

Fos­sil Ridge, an­other 2016 semi­fi­nal­ist, only grad­u­ated two se­niors and re­turns ju­nior Rosie Philop, ju­nior Kris­ten Reed, se­nior Rheanna Will and ju­nior Mia Mod­del­mog to the lineup.

Mean­while, Legacy, again un­der the guid­ance of leg­endary coach Dawn Gaf­fin, will be an­other deep team out of the Front Range League thanks to the re­turn of ju­nior pitcher Is­abella Kelly, as well as ju­nior Lau­ren Strat­hearn, ju­nior Pey­ton Miyasaki and se­nior Ciarra Nel­son in the field.

And in the Con­ti­nen­tal League, Leg­end and Douglas County are early fa­vorites.

Leg­end re­turns ju­nior pitcher Zoey LeCompte as well as the bats of se­nior Alyssa Nunn, ju­nior Pay­ton Lin­cav­age, sopho­more Lau­ren Griggs and ju­nior Olivia Bradley.

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