In the past, the
softball program was like many others. Good years, so-so years. Appearances in the state tournament, although no state championships.
But that was PHV: Pre-Hutton Valley.
Yes, the Vikings are amidst a solid cycle of athletes and have a fine coach in Kevin Miles. But the formerly title-free Vikings have won the Class 3A championship the past two seasons, and three Hutton sisters have been a part of it.
The common denominator is senior Haley Hutton
, a dynamic, do-it-all shortstop who has been a key figure in both titles. Her older sister, Taylor, was part of the 2010 title team and now playing at Colorado State. Younger sister Bridgette was a freshman on last season's squad and figures to quickly morph into a Division-I prospect as well.
"We were talking about it the other day and it's pretty neat to be able to share one with each," Haley said. "Taylor and I have matching state rings and now Bridgette and I have matching state rings. I think it would have been cool if all of us would have gotten to play at the same time. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, but it's still pretty awesome."
Hutton is well-spoken, intelligent and quick to deflect credit to the program itself rather than anything she's done personally. Speaking volumes, however, is her designation as a first-team member of The Denver Post's All-Colorado team the past two seasons - a difficult feat for a 3A player - in addition to being selected the 3A Player of the Year each season.
Last season, she batted .351 - if only extra-base hits counted (.584 overall). She clubbed nine home runs, 11 triples, seven doubles and drove in 43 as the Vikings went 24-1 and defeated Berthoud in the title game.
"She's amazing," Windsor coach Sandi Cumings said. "She's quick and she's fundamentally sound, and that's what you want in a softball player. She's definitely one of the top handful of players in the state. I don't think 3A, 4A or 5A makes a difference in how good a softball player she is. She's one of the best that Colorado has had."
As a sophomore, when Hutton initially burst onto the scene, her numbers were very similar: .527 average, eight homers, 11 triples, seven doubles and 30 RBI. Valley went 21-5 that season, which also ended with a title-game triumph against Berthoud. It was even before that when Miles discovered he had a budding star on his hands.
"Oddly enough, it was when I had her in eighth grade for P.E. class, which I teach at the middle-school level," Miles said. "You could tell she was going to be a great player. You could tell she just had that ‘it' from the first day she walked on that practice field, and she's been consistent from her freshman year on."
The right-handed thrower, left-handed hitter experimented with switch hitting in one at-bat last season. She walloped a home run against Weld Central.
Switch-hitting is something Hutton continues to work on, although she is not as dynamic from the right side. She's a power threat from that side of the batter's box, but exhibits the triple threat of power, slapping and bunting from the left side. Still, she'll continue to work on right-handed hitting in case she ever needs it.
"I think her biggest asset is just her work ethic," Miles said. "As good as she is, every day she's there, she's trying to get better. It's the little things she does. She can hit, she can field, but she works continually on her fielding more than anything. She has to take five more ground balls and those types of things."
Hutton's work ethic is exemplified in her academic ambitions. At CSU, she'll study electrical engineering and cryptology. Taylor Hutton is already busy at work in the civil engineering portion of construction management.
For now, she has one more season to terrorize the 3A circuit and vie for another ring with Bridgette Hutton
, a pitcher/first baseman. Valley has started the season 3-2 and Haley Hutton is already hitting .500 with two homers. Bridgette is hitting .400 with one homer and is 2-0 with an 0.84 ERA.
"It's exciting just to think how far the Valley High School softball program has come," Haley said. "I think Miles has been there for 17 years, and he's done a great job every year of getting the girls prepared. I'm proud to be a part of this team, not just the accomplishments alone, but getting to share the experience with the girls."
In Haley's three-plus seasons with the team, Valley has gone 67-13 with the two titles and a trip to the semifinals her freshman year.
Indeed, the Vikings have come a long way since PHV.
"Obviously it took one-through-nine to get it done, but they've been huge," Miles said of the Huttons. "Their work ethic and everything they do rubs off on everyone else to get better. With Taylor getting the one ring and Bridgette getting one and Haley having two, it speaks volumes."