AURORA — A semifinalist club now in back-to-back seasons, there seems to be one form of barrier or another that has kept the Silver Creek softball team from making its first Class 4A state championship game appearance.
Last season, the barrier was one of their own doing and built with errors. This year, the Raptors simply came up against a hotter Holy Family club that defeated them 5-1 in the semifinals. For one of the winningest teams in Colorado over the past two years, it was a more palatable loss but nonetheless a disappointing finish to a season the Raptors and many other believed would end with a state title.
Raptors head coach Ryan Beavers pointed out that sometimes a team just gets beaten on a given day. He was clear, however, that this year's club, top-to-bottom, was the best ever assembled at Silver Creek.
"I told them that I've been around a lot of teams and nine times we've been here to state and there's been plenty of years I've left here saying, 'Shoulda, woulda, coulda,'" Beavers said. "All year long, they've been consistent and they've done everything the right way. Their attitudes, the environment we created, the culture, all of it, was exactly what you'd want. We ended the season the way we started the season, exactly that way.
"The problem is, they just hit better than we did. But we fought tooth and nail from front to back and as tough as it is to swallow that pill, I have no regrets at all and neither should they. Trophies gather dust, memories don't. This is the best team in Silver Creek history and not just because of the talent, but because they did it right and this was a true team from Day 1."
The No. 2-seeded Raptors (25-3) ended up playing one fewer game than they had hoped but Beavers considered the season a resounding success.
In their final game of the season, the Raptors never seemed to find their footing offensively. Despite entering the semifinals with a team-wide batting average of .462, a team on-base percentage of .536, and a deadly run-scoring combination of 37 home runs and 42 stolen bases, the Raptors managed just two hits and three total baserunners against Holy Family.
The Raptors bats unexpectedly went cold at the worst time of the season, beginning in earnest with a 2-0 victory over Pueblo South (19-8) in the quarterfinals. But in the semifinals they were stymied by Holy Family (27-2) starter Erin Caviness, who struck out seven Raptors over a 1-run complete game and scored the game's first runs with a two-run home run in the third inning.
"That was surprising," Beavers said. "But I still think that's just how this game goes and we had the right approach. Makayla Keck (Friday) for Pueblo South, she threw a good game and you have to give her credit for that. You have to give props to Erin Caviness over there for Holy Family. She threw a good game."
Senior first baseman Makayla Garcia broke up a no-hit bid from Caviness with a one-out single in bottom of the fourth inning. Senior starting pitcher Jetta Nannen, who led Colorado with 17 home runs this season and will graduate as the Silver Creek program record-holder in nearly a dozen categories, accounted for the Raptors' only run of the game with a leadoff solo home run in the seventh inning.
Holy Family 5, Silver Creek 1
At Aurora Sports Park
Holy Family 002 012 0 — 5 11 0
Silver Creek 000 000 1 — 1 2 3
W — Caviness. L — Nannen.
Holy Family hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Martinez 4-2-2-0, Rode 3-2-3-0, Winters 4-0-2-2, Caviness 3-1-1-3, Whitlock 4-0-1-0, Gardon 4-0-1-0, Edwards 4-0-0-0, Kuszak 4-0-1-0, McKenzie 2-0-0-0. Totals 32-5-10-5. 2B — Winters. HR — Caviness (1 on in 3rd).
Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Harper 3-0-0-0, Garcia 3-0-1-0, Nannen 3-1-1-1, Kuehl 3-0-0-0, Scott 3-0-0-0, Wager 2-0-0-0, Kuckuk 2-0-0-0, Beavers 1-0-0-0, Hunt 1-0-0-0, Fisher 2-0-0-0. Totals 23-1-2-1. HR — Nannen (solo in 7th).
Holy Family pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Caviness 7-2-1-1-0-7.
Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Nannen 7-11-5-4-1-4.