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Silver Creek softball players, left to right, Haille Weber, McKenna Kostelecky, Devin Aubry, Shelby Keil and Macy Child are helping lead a re-tooled Raptors squad to plenty of success this season.
Greg Lindstrom
Silver Creek softball players, left to right, Haille Weber, McKenna Kostelecky, Devin Aubry, Shelby Keil and Macy Child are helping lead a re-tooled Raptors squad to plenty of success this season.

LONGMONT — Ryan Beavers heard much of the offseason chatter emanating from Silver Creek’s softball rivals across the Northern League, many of whom were eager to take their shot at the Raptors after enduring years of punishment from them.

At times the talk was unavoidable for Silver Creek’s head coach. Just as unavoidable, in quieter moments, was the gnawing concession that some of those doubters might have been making a valid point. After all, Silver Creek had lost much of the cast that had terrorized opposing pitchers while leading the program to consecutive appearances in the Class 4A quarterfinals. Few teams lose the sort of heavy hitters vacated from the Silver Creek’s lineup without missing a beat.

Yet the Raptors of 2012 have managed not only to adapt and survive, but thrive. Playing a style more focused on fundamental details and less reliant on extra-base hits, Silver Creek (14-4) needs only a victory against winless Greeley Central in its regular season finale Thursday to secure sole possession of second place in the Northern League.

“There were some question marks, because the 2010 and 2011 teams were pretty stellar. Particularly that 2010 team,” Beavers said. “I got some fun ribbing with people saying, ‘You’re going to be down, you’re going to be down.’ I just said nothing at the time. In the last two seasons we’ve lost seven seniors who were huge performers.

“I knew we’d be good. The question was how good. We did change the face of how we played a little bit. We used to sit back a little more and play the long ball. This year we we’ve probably sacrifice bunted more than we ever have and we have one kid (Macy Child) who has broken the stolen base record. We’ve never had to run much in the past. This year we knew we had to run more and we had to bunt more.”

Behind big hitters like Kerry Brundage and 2011 Northern League player of the year Elise Dugwyler, the Raptors averaged 21.5 home runs and 50.5 doubles during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. They are well off that pace this year, compiling 12 home runs and 24 doubles going into Thursday’s regular season finale, and yet the Raptors still will likely own only four losses going into next week’s regionals.

Moreover, all four of those defeats have occurred against top-tier competition — Thompson Valley (which Silver Creek also defeated in league play), defending 4A state champion Wheat Ridge, and two narrow losses against Niwot’s indomitable pitcher, Nickie Blue.

“These girls are a lot different than what we’ve been used to, but that’s good because we match up against anyone real well,” said senior pitcher McKenna Kostelecky, who leads Silver Creek with 22 RBI’s. “There’s big hitters, but there’s also girls who can put down the bunts, and that’s what we need to do to score runs.”

While the Raptors boast strong holdover hitters in Kostelecky and Shelby Keil (.378 average, 17 RBI’s), others have filled the voids in Silver Creek’s lineup without necessarily replacing the team’s departed firepower.

Child, who is hitting .403 to go with her season-record 19 stolen bases in 20 attempts, has combined with junior Devin Aubry (hitting a team-leading .407) to give the Raptors an athletic one-two punch at the top of the batting order. Defensively, the Raptors have proven adept at turning double plays, and Beavers believes he owns the best defensive outfield a Silver Creek team has ever fielded with Aubry, Haille Weber, and his daughter Ashley Beavers.

“I’ve always been pretty speedy, so that helps a lot,” said Child, who also set a Raptors’ single-game record with five stolen bases against Longmont on Sept. 21. “The stealing bases was a big goal for me. To steal bases, I had to get on, and that’s always my mental state when I get in the batter’s box.

“The girls that play here are very well-rounded. No matter what season it is, whether it is big hitters or being quick and doing the short game, we always get it done somehow.”

Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07

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