Skill Challenge tests aspiring baseball players


— Local youth baseball players completed the first stage of the Rockies Skill Challenge Sunday at the Emerald Park baseball fields.

Twenty-eight local players between the ages of 6 and 13 took part in the competition. Players were divided into four different age classes and the top players earned the right to play in a regional event in Glenwood Springs on July 16.

"It's baseball's Punt, Pass & Kick," local organizer Andy Hogrefe said.

The young hopefuls can score from 0 to 5 in three different events that measure the players skill level in hitting, throwing and running. The players scoring the highest points in their age group earn the right to advance. The top finisher earns five points, No. 2 gets four points and so on.

Local players who will travel to Glenwood Springs were Eric Samuelson, winner of the 6- to 7-year-old group and Jace Bonner, winner of the 10- to 11-year-old group.

Matt Beilhartz was second among 10- and 11-year-old players; Jay Hanley came in third.

Graham Hogrefe scored 13 points in the contest and will represent Steamboat in the 12- to 13-year-old boys age group. Kathleen Lyon will also advance in the girls 12 to 13 division.

Vince Grippa finished second in the 12 to 13 boys and Zach Hartel beat out Matt Engle in a tie-breaker for third place.

The girls divisions were vacant in the 6 to 7 and 10 to 11 groups.

Steamboat has been hosting the Rockies Skills Challenge for the past four years. During that time, Hogrefe said the number of players taking part has remained fairly consistent.

Players must hit a ball off of a tee for distance in the hitting section. They also throw a ball from home plate for both distance and accuracy in the throwing section and run from second base to home against the clock in the running portion.

The regional event in Glenwood will feature a similar format. Players who win that event will travel to Denver on August 6 to test their skills against the state's best at Coors Field prior to a Rockies game.

To reach John F. Russellcall 871-4209 or e-mail


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