Going to bat

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— Last year adult baseball in Steamboat Springs seemed to be stranded on first base.

Steamboat had one team that was scheduled to play games against the high school team and another one from Craig. But after the Craig team fell to pieces early in the season, the local hard-ballers were left with very few options.

"We had 21 guys on the team here in Steamboat," organizer Tommy Larson said. "We got together and decided that we could do this ourselves."

That team played a lot of intersquad scrimmages and a few games against the local high school team. But Larson and several other local players were looking for more.

So Larson got together with another local baseball supporter, Joe Bender, and the two started the Yampa Valley Baseball League. Larson said he thinks three local teams is a great start.

"I just love baseball," said Tom Barr, captain of the Steamboat Storm. "I want to share my love of the game with the kids."

So this year when Barr heard that Larson was starting a league, he formed a team made up of high school players and their dads.

Teams started playing games on Tuesday night and the schedule will run from May 22 through July 20. There will be three teams named after famous peaks in the area. Larson will head up the Emeralds, Barr is in charge of the Storm and Joe Bender will Organize the Buffs.

"We wanted to start off small," Larson said. "Keep things manageable."

Larson said he had enough interest in the new league to form four complete teams, but he opted to keep it at three to add stability.

"The last thing you want to do is stretch things too far and have teams without enough reliable players," Larson said.

He said he thinks that with a four-team schedule some teams might be forced to forfeit games during the course of the year, which would undermine what organizers are hoping to accomplish with the local league.

"There are a lot of guys out there who still want to play baseball," Larson said. "I think we are off to a good start."

Most of the league games will be played on Friday nights on Vanatta field. One team each week will have a doubleheader the other two will play one game each week.

There are a few exceptions to make room for things like Triple Crown tournaments, but Larson said the players were so excited to get going they started a week earlier than planned.

"Tommy (Larson) has a lot of energy and there are a lot of local players who are not that excited about softball," Barr said. "Hitting a baseball is a lot different. it's a new challenge for a lot of local players."

Larson said the players will absorb the cost of the league by paying an $80 league fee. Umpires will be paid $25 per game, but most of them will be from other teams in the league and the cost will be swapped out over the course of the season.

The games will consist of seven innings, but there will be a time limit in effect. An official game consists of four complete innings with the 10-run rule going into effect at the top of the fifth inning.

Parks and Recreation spokesperson Christina Freeman said she is excited about having the new league in Steamboat and said her department is doing whatever they can to help get the program off and running.

"Anytime someone is willing to come in and start a program that we don't have to support financially we are all for it," Freeman said. "We are trying to help out where we can and we would like to see this program continue to grow in Steamboat."

Larson said Parks and Recreation has been a huge help with fields and scheduling. He said that Parks and Recreation has done a lot of things to get the program rolling that they will never be recognized for.

"They have been great," Larson said. "it's nice to get support like that from the city."

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