The natural: NU senior a leader in the outfield |

The natural: NU senior a leader in the outfield

Without fail, her routine remains the same. She has to see the ball come off the bat, takes one step back and then it’s off to the races to complete the catch.

Except every catch seems easy – almost to the point of being automatic.

Perhaps that’s why Nevada Union softball coach Darren Chan calls senior captain Kayla Olson the best outfielder he’s seen at Nevada Union in his nine years with the program.

Or maybe it’s because of the fact that she went from beginning her high school softball career with only a few seasons of tee ball under her belt to being named a first-team all-Metro Conference player in just her sophomore season.

Olson’s natural athletic ability and the sport of softball have since formed a partnership that will make finding a replacement for her next season difficult.

“She’s coachable and learns quickly,” Chan said. “She has a strong arm, good speed and a great first step – she’s everything you’d want in an outfielder.”

Playing softball her freshman year is not how Olson envisioned spending her spring at Nevada Union High School. Luckily for the softball program, a friend of Olson’s convinced her to try-out.

“I was actually pretty scared to go out for the team because I didn’t think I was going to make it,” Olson said.

Chan was the junior varsity coach that year and decided to take a chance on Olson because his team needed a catcher and Olson said she could play the position.

The next year Chan was promoted to varsity coach and he brought Olson up as a sophomore. Except he already had a varsity catcher, so he decided to try Olson in the outfield.

“Early that season, I asked her and her dad to meet me at the field one Saturday for some one-on-one instruction,” Chan said. “After an hour she had picked up everything I taught her that day.”

The Miners went on to win the Metro championship that season, with Olson holding down the leadoff spot in the batting order in addition to starting in the outfield. She was named first-team all-Metro that season.

At the beginning of Olson’s junior year, Chan asked her to be a captain – a role usually reserved for seniors.

“No one wanted to step up or was willing to take the responsibility,” Chan said. “She didn’t feel it was her position, but I put it in her lap and she’s done a great job for me. She’s loyal, dependable and the girls look up to her.”

By season’s end, the relatively young Miners were making history. The team became the first softball squad in school history to win back-to-back league championships.

Olson, who started in center field and hit cleanup, was named team Most Valuable Player in addition to earning another first-team all-conference honor.

She led the team with a .351 batting average and 27 hits, while also knocking in 14 RBIs with a .398 on base percentage and .416 slugging percentage.

This year’s team – with a roster filled with young and experienced players – has seen its share of ups and downs, but Olson has remained a constant source of encouragement. Despite the Miners’ 4-7 Metro record, Olson looks to be a lock again for post season honors.

For a player who never intended to spend hours upon hours playing softball these past four years, Olson admits that what the experience has meant to her is surprising.

She now considers many of her teammates almost like sisters and even Chan, who she teases non-stop, has become one of her favorite people to be around.

Leaving this season with two Metro championships will always be up there in terms of her favorite memories, as will her home run against Granite Bay last season.

“I’m trying to say I’m happy (to graduate), but deep down, I’m sad,” Olson said. “I’m going to miss it all.”

To contact sports writer Stacy Hicklin, e-mail or call 477-4244.

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