Softball: Harper, Nannen top Silver Creek’s hopeful lineup

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Silver Creek High School's Kyla Harper stops a ground ball during softball practice on Tuesday in Longmont. Harper had 52 hits last season to help lead the Raptors to the 4A semifinals. Go to for more photos.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Returning player of the year Jetta Nannen is back to help lead Silver Creek in it's charge for a state title. Go to for more photos.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Silver Creek High School's Bailey Beavers makes a throw to first base during softball practice on Tuesday in Longmont. Go to for more photos.



You might not see any of the girls on the Silver Creek softball team on “So You Think You Can Dance” in the near future, but there’s no doubt music has proven to be a useful tool to keep the Raptors loose in the dugout before and during games.

For senior Kayla Harper, it’s not that unusual to see her in the on-deck circle with her eyes closed, reciting lyrics to her newest favorite song while taking a few hacks. In the pitching circle, meanwhile, opposing pitchers may as well be praying.

“Actually it’s weird, but I don’t think about anything because when I do I tend to overthink, but sometimes I sing in my head because it calms me down,” Harper, a senior this year, said when asked what she tries to focus on prior to walking up to the plate. “We danced a lot last year. Danced on the bus, and before the game, just to try get the nerves out. We started doing that last year, got to know each other, got loose and started to play well.”

Whether it was the dancing, or just simply a talented bunch showing their true colors eventually, Harper and the rest of the Silver Creek lineup certainly caught a groove at the plate, hitting for a .439 team batting average on their way to the Class 4A state semifinals. With Harper again leading the top of the lineup, and reigning player of the year Jetta Nannen slugging right behind her, Silver Creek should have one of the state’s finest 1-2 punches this fall.

The pair combined for 96 hits and 80 runs scored in 2017, and Harper’s 52 hits were tied for second in the state — regardless of classification and only one behind the state-leading 53 of Thomas Jefferson’s Sevi Harden (a 2018 graduate).

Even though Harper doesn’t get a chance to see Nannen swing that often — she’s too busy flying around the bases most of the time — there’s a mutual respect with how they each approach their chances in the batter’s box.

“Jetta’s got a big swing, but she certainly always seems relaxed and just lets it loose,” Harper said.

“For Kayla, I just know she’s usually always going to get on base, whether it’s hitting or bunting … she has so many tools in her back pocket that she can pull out,” Nannen added, herself looking for a third straight season of at least 10 home runs. “I love to be able to watch how she reacts to the infield and the pitcher, really all that.”

Silver Creek head coach Ryan Beavers has seen the very best of the pair since they were freshmen. Harper’s career batting average stands at .526 (130 hits in 247 at-bats) and Nannen checks in at .492 (117-for-238).

Their aggressive nature has led to their success, Beavers said, and although approaches may change depending on what type of pitchers they see on occasion, Harper’s and Nannen’s mentality is something he said should be duplicated by all the girls on his expansive roster.

“They both like to attack early if the ball is in the zone, and they rarely miss when they do that,” Beavers said. “On the whole, when there’s a pitcher living in the zone a lot but she makes a mistake in it, they’re jumping early. They have that ‘don’t wait around’ mentality and avoid two-strike counts, but at the same time they’re great two-strike hitters.”

The Raptors have a core of seven returners that saw a lot of action in SCHS’ 18-5-1 campaign of 2017, but there’s a lot to the growth of the program that has to do with the opportunity to reward junior varsity players with at-bats. Twenty-three players appeared in a varsity game for Beavers last year, and he expects the same chances to present themselves this season.

While she has been a starter since day one, Nannen agreed that the transition to full-time varsity for some girls seems to be a lot easier because of that. With that, too, comes a better sense of belonging.

“Our goal as seniors is together to lead the team and show the fun we can have, and just be positive and influential to all the younger girls,” Nannen said. “We work hard and get stuff done, but we still have fun.

“It helps a ton to get girls the experience … I know there’s nerves but if you get a chance to have a key role in baserunning, or even just a big at-bat, that’s shows, this is what I have to do on varsity, this is who I have to be on this level. It really builds up the program.”

Though the season officially started Thursday, the Raptors have several practices remaining before they get on the field for the first time. They’ll be looking for an unprecedented ninth-straight state tournament appearance, but Beavers constantly talks about not letting expectations, past history or even the motivation of a league rival as the defending state champion define his team.

Mountain View captured the 4A crown last year, and even though the Raptors made the semis for the first time in Beavers’ 12 years of growing the program, the process is what he wants his players to focus on.

There’s just too much luck involved to think any other way.

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