BOULDER — For girls who weren’t even expected to be on the team, sisters Lindsey and Tianna Harper of Mead sure have made an impact for the Colorado Stars Gold 18U softball squad.
It wasn’t that coach Dan Burns didn’t want the Harpers. He did. It was just that his roster was full when he was first approached about the tandem. But when a Stars player decided not to pursue softball any longer, a spot opened.
Burns added both Harpers.
Tianna, who just completed her sophomore season at Mead, leads the Stars in home runs. Lindsey, a recent graduate who will study at Texas Tech, has become one of the Stars’ most versatile utility players.
Both demonstrated their skills Wednesday at Stazio Ballfields in the opening rounds of the Independence Day Tournament. The Stars opened 1-0-1 in the 80-team Boulder division with a 5-4 win against Sorcerer Blue and a 1-1 tie with the Fresno Force.
“They’ve fit in great,” Burns said. “Tianna, I think her best position is going to end up as catcher. And with Lindsey being a one-year player for us, we’ve kind of spread her around in a utility role. We’re lucky to have both of them.”
For Lindsey Harper, it represents one final summer to play with her sister before she enrolls in Texas Tech’s agricultural program. She also is considering walking on to the Raiders softball team.
“Definitely having one last summer is awesome,” she said. “What older sister wouldn’t want that?
She has witnessed Tianna’s ascension into an elite power hitter. Burns estimates the junior-to-be has “about a dozen” homers, quite a total considering she is facing many pitchers who will be pitching for colleges within a few months.
But Tianna Harper is just enjoying the moment and not trying to over-think it.
“I’m definitely hitting the long ball this year, but it’s kind of a surprise because I’ve always been the little girl on the team,” she said.
Initially, Tianna was satisfied just to have a roster spot on an elite squad and thrilled to have the opportunity to play in tournaments such as this one, which she labels her favorite. She had no inklings of leading the squad in round-trippers.
“At first it was kind of nerve-wracking because it was such a big step and I didn’t know where I’d fit in,” Tianna Harper said. “I tried to be more confident since I’m playing up, and playing with older girls has been great. They’re a good influence and they’re role models.”
The sisters played with Pro Swing in Loveland last summer and have helped Mead establish its fledgling program. Because the Mavericks are so new, there have been some bumps in the road and a steep learning curve.
The Stars Gold is a whole different ballgame.
“This is a lot better,” Lindsey Harper said. “High school has its challenges, but here, everybody knows what they’re doing. You don’t have to worry if someone is going to make a play. You can depend on them to make it.”
Both sisters factored into the win against Northern California-based Sorcerer Blue. After the visitors took a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth on a two-run homer by Rebecca Wong, Tianna Harper led off the winning rally in the bottom of the inning with a single. She scored the tying run on an RBI single by Karen Williams, and the Stars won it on Paige Reichmuth’s run-scoring groundout.
In the fourth, Lindsey Harper pinch ran and scored to tie it 2-2.
In Game 2, Fresno tied it 1-1 on a homer by Caitlyn Emberson in the top of the sixth, and the Stars couldn’t get a run off Force reliever Arizona Pilgrim, who threw four scoreless innings. The Stars had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on Mallory Paulson’s RBI single.
The Harpers and their Stars teammates get back to action Thursday with two more pool-play games.
Follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulWillis21
Colorado Stars Gold 5, Sorcerer Blue 4
At Stazio Fields
Sorcerer Blue 000 202 — 4 9 2
Colorado Stars Gold 000 302 — 5 7 2
W — Mintz. L — Puente.
Sorcerer Blue hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Lotoszynski 3-2-3-0, Wong 2-1-1-2, Maday 3-1-1-0, Barker 3-0-2-1, Shingler 3-0-0-0, Loucks 2-0-2-0, Peterson 2-0-0-0, Puente 1-0-0-0, Pekarek 1-0-0-0, Balanon 2-0-0-0, Thomas 2-0-0-0. Totals 24-9-3. 2B — Lotoszynski. HR — Wong (one on in sixth). SB — Maday.
Colorado Stars Gold hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kilcrease 3-0-0-1, Good 3-0-1-0, Sexton 2-0-0-0, Mintz 2-0-0-0, Keil 2-1-0-0, Paulson 3-0-2-1, L. Harper 0-1-0-0, T. Harper 3-1-2-0, Ortega 2-2-1-0, Williams 2-0-1-1, Reichmuth 2-0-0-2. Totals 24-5-7-5. 2B — Good, Paulson. SB — Good, Ortega, Williams.
Sorcerer Blue pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Dyreson 3-3-0-0-2-3, Puente 2.1-4-5-4-4-3.
Colorado Stars Gold pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Mintz 6-9-4-3-0-7..
Colorado Stars Gold 1, Fresno Force 1
At Stazio Fields
Fresno Force 000 001 0 — 1 4 0
Colorado Stars Gold 100 000 0 — 1 6 0
Fresno Force hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Coates 3-0-0-0, Schanda 2-0-0-0, Emberson 3-1-1-1, Pierce 3-0-1-0, Forester 3-0-0-0, Estrada 3-0-0-0, Turman 3-0-1-0-0, Lambert 2-0-0-0, Tracy 1-0-0-0, Garcia 0-0-0-0, Escobar 1-0-1-0. Totals 24-1-4-1. HR — Emberson (solo in 6th).
Colorado Stars Gold hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kilcrease 2-0-0-0, Good 3-1-1-0, Sexton 3-0-0-0, Keil 3-0-1-0, Paulson 3-0-2-1, T. Harper 3-0-0-0, Ortega 3-0-0-0, Biaggi 2-0-0-0, L. Harper 2-0-0-0, Reichmuth 2-0-2-0. Totals 26-1-6-1. SB — Good.
Fresno Force pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Wallace 3-3-1-1-1-2, Pilgrim 4-3-0-0-0-5.
Colorado Stars Gold pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Losh 7-4-1-1-2-6.