Softball: Hard-hitting senior Emilie Roberts leads Buffaloes’ band of boppers

Smoky Hill catcher leads entire state in home runs so far in 2017, heads young group aiming to "shock" some teams down the stretch

Smoky Hill senior catcher Emilie Roberts leads all classifications in home runs through games of Sept. 12, 2017, with a career-high seven in just 10 games. Led by Roberts, a University of Northern Colorado commitment, the Buffaloes have Aurora’s prolific power attack in the early going. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Emilie Roberts needed just a simple base hit to give her Smoky Hill team a win over Lakewood at the Dave Sanders Memorial tournament when she stepped to the plate Sept. 8.

Any kind of hit would have brought home the winning run from third base, but this is not just any kind of season for the Buffs’ star senior catcher.

Roberts cranked a three-run home run over the fence at the Aurora Sports Park to deliver an 8-5 win in fitting fashion for a 6-4 Smoky Hill team that has been Aurora’s most prolific power-hitting team in the early stages of 2017.

“A base hit would have done it, but it just lifted and went out,” Roberts recalled. “It was my first walk-off, so that felt good.”

While it was her first walk-off hit, it most certainly wasn’t Roberts’ first home run. Not on that day and not by a long shot.

Roberts’ bomb against Lakewood was one of four she hit on the day over three games, which has made her the state leader in home runs regardless of classification with seven going into games of Sept. 13.

Smoky Hill coach B.J. Kingsbaker expected Roberts would have a “monster season” and he’s certainly been right.

Coming off a summer in which she played very well for coach Pablo Severtson’s Colorado Styxx team, Roberts has multiple-homer games against Rampart and Grand Junction Central and homered in three other games.

Not an imposing figure by any means at 5-foot-5 — certainly not like Eaglecrest slugger Kailey Wilson — Roberts has channeled great balance and the ability to separate her upper and lower body movements to help generate maximum power.

Former Smoky Hill baseball coach Scott Henry has worked with Roberts lately and found an athlete with the ideal fundamental tools — and mindset — to be an elite hitter.

“Emilie is really coachable,” Henry said. “I have been so impressed with how quickly she makes adjustments to her swing. She is one of the best athletes I’ve ever worked with.”

Roberts said her work with Henry has made things “click” and its showing with a .636 batting average that is close to 200 points higher than her career average (.454) and ranks only behind Wilson (.697) among Aurora hitters. Roberts also tops the city in RBI (21).

As for the power, Roberts isn’t trying to hit the ball out of the park, it just happens.

“I just swing hard and hope for the best, that’s basically it,” Roberts said. “I try to put a good swing on it and if it goes, it goes, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

The power has become infectious as well, as Smoky Hill’s 15 home runs — including five from sophomore Yasmine Ybarra and three from freshman Lexie Hassemer — leads Aurora by a wide margin.

The Buffaloes have five more homers than second place Cherokee Trail (10) and six more than Eaglecrest (9), which features the slugging duo of Wilson and junior shortstop Rachel Sabourin, who have produced eight between them.

Only Grand Junction Central (19) has more in 5A thus far than Smoky Hill. Ironically, three of the Warriors’ home runs came against the Buffaloes in a head-to-head matchup at the Dave Sanders tournament.

“I think we’re pretty stacked through the lineup and I think our offense is looking really good going into the Centennial League,” Roberts said. “We haven’t peaked yet, but we’re close and that’s where you want to be going into league.”

Roberts believes Smoky Hill — which features another outstanding senior in Kayla Banks, mixed with quite a bit of youth — has the recipe to “shock some people” as the Buffaloes did in 2015 on their way to making the 5A state tournament.

Softball is also in Roberts’ future, as she verbally committed to the University of Northern Colorado last August.

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or sports@aurorasentinel.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

AURORA HOME RUN LEADERS

Through games of Sept. 12

7 Emilie Roberts, Smoky Hill; 5Yasmine Ybarra, Smoky Hill; 4Rachel Sabourin and Kailey Wilson, Eaglecrest; 3Izzy Macias, Regis Jesuit & Lexi Hassemer, Smoky Hill; 2Haley Abers, Delanie Cox, Lexi Gillen and Megan Medhus, Cherokee Trail & Yamil Corral, Rangeview