Eaglecrest headlines top-heavy 5A field
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
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.