Glenwood senior Kiera Larson taking her softball game to the collegiate level
Combined Basalt team standout commits to Plymouth State University
The long drives to Denver to play competitive club softball and fine-tune her skills during the offseason are paying off for Glenwood Springs High School senior Kiera Larson.
The standout member of the Roaring Fork School District’s combined softball team at Basalt High School put the ink to paper Thursday, and next year is set to be a member of the Plymouth State University Panthers in New Hampshire.
“Softball is a very mental sport, and it’s something where you can always improve on things,” Larson said of her commitment to the sport since she was about 6 years old.
By 12, she said she knew she wanted to take her game to the next level, both as an eventual four-year starter for the Longhorns and now on to college ball.
“I’ve always had goals to look forward to but, yeah, it’s just a really fun sport to play, too,” she said.
She said Plymouth State provides a solid mix of a good softball program and the academic areas where she’s looking to focus her studies.
“They have a great criminal justice program, forensic science and social justice, and they have great internship opportunities, too,” she said.
After touring the school in Plymouth, New Hampshire and meeting with coach Mike Bernier, Larson said it felt like the right fit. The Panthers play at the Division III level in the Little East Conference.
As a member of the Basalt Longhorns, primarily playing the catcher position, Larson has been the team’s stats leader in recent years in just about every category. Plymouth recruited her to play catcher.
Through four years of high school ball, she had a career batting average of .492 through 79 games, with 119 hits, 120 RBIs, five home runs and an on-base percentage of .556.
Her fielding percentage through four years was .910, and she also contributed to the team’s pitching efforts, collecting a 5-2 record in her senior season last fall with 12 appearances.
Kiera’s mother, Amy Larson, grew up in New Hampshire and the family has spent numerous summers visiting family there.
“She’s pretty familiar with the area, and she’ll have her grandparents and multiple aunts and uncles and cousins there for support,” she said. “She’s just worked so hard to be able to get here and to be able to play at the next level, and we’re so proud of her and just happy that the opportunity is there and that it seems like a good fit for her.”
Father Shane Larson has been Kiera’s coach through Little League, and said he is looking forward to seeing her take her talents to the college softball field.
“This is a great opportunity for her, but it’ll definitely be a change because we’ve been at all of her games through high school,” he said. “Now she’ll be across the country playing so won’t get to see her quite as often.”
“But she has worked really hard for this and we’ve talked to a lot of coaches and went to a lot of camps, and really always stayed focused on what she wanted to do academically through this process.”
As Kiera improved through the Little League ranks, her parents said they encouraged her as she wanted to keep playing at a higher level. She played on a travel team in Grand Junction for five years, and for the past three years has been spending much of her time from March through July as part of the Colorado Bombers Gold, a national club team based out of Denver.
Basalt the beneficiary
Basalt head coach Amy Bollock started coaching the Longhorns in Larson’s freshman year, so it’s been extra special to watch her progress, the coach said.
“We were really successful that year, where we had a couple of young players who just stepped in and really helped that team win league and then make it to state,” Bollock said of her first season coaching the high school team. “We had some good upperclassmen that were the leaders who helped groom some of these younger athletes that were coming up.”
Bollock remembers coaching her Carbondale Little League team against coach/dad Larson’s Glenwood team, and thinking it would be special once Kiera got to high school along with a talented group of players from Glenwood, Carbondale and Basalt.
“I was so excited because I knew all those girls were going to play together in high school,” she said. “That’s a great thing about the Basalt High School program, because we’re able to merge with Carbondale and Glenwood to make one team.”
The Basalt team was started in 2010, and typically has about an equal number of players from Basalt, Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs High.
“I remember when I was playing on the team, we had between four and nine varsity starters coming from Glenwood,” said GSHS alum and current assistant athletic director, Jordan DeCrow. “It’s definitely a program our kids like to be involved in.”
Through the years, other Glenwood players have signed on to play at the collegiate level, including Willow Stolley in 2021 (Agnes Scott College, Georgia) and Afton Larsen (no relation) in 2018 (Sterling College, Kansas)
“It’s been great to have all the girls I used to play against in Little League come together on the same team,” Kiera Larson said. Among them was coach Bollock’s daughter, Corey Bollock, another senior member of the Longhorns this past season.
“It was really cool to have players that I knew and had always been playing against, and to finally be on the same team,” Larson said. “And especially the girls who came from Glenwood, with us having to make the commitment to drive there every day. It was a great way as a freshman to automatically make some friends on the team and in the school. And that just carried out all four years.”
Coach Bollock said the benefits are many.
“Just the success that we’ve had, and these girls saying how much fun they’re having getting some girls that might not have played otherwise. We had a couple of girls this year who hadn’t played since they were in sixth grade, and they contributed to the team.”
On hand for Larson’s signing Thursday were several teammates, including fellow GSHS senior teammate Katalena Lott, a member of the Demons cheerleading squad who recently signed to cheer for Colorado Western University in Gunnison.
Lott said she started playing softball in addition to doing cheer, and enjoyed being a two-sport athlete. But cheer has been her passion, she said.
“I decided to do cheer again for my senior year, because I missed it so much,” Lott said.
“It will definitely be different and it’s going to be harder cheering at the college level, and more of a commitment,” she said, noting Western has a coed team and does competitions. “I’m super excited for that.”