Stars and stripes of Triple Crown

Teams make trek for holiday


The base of Howelsen Hill was all stripes, from the abundance of pinstripes to the visible stars and stripes, as the Triple Crown adult slow-pitch softball tournament continued Saturday.

For many of the players, it wouldn't be the Fourth of July if they weren't in Steamboat Springs.

"My team I play with regularly is back home playing in another tournament," Rodney Cummins of Colorado Springs said. "But I got on another team to come up here and play. It's all about having fun with your friends."

Or family. Hillary Vannoy came out to the diamonds Saturday to cheer on her husband and the Lights Out team from Fort Lupton. As she glanced at the players warming up, she noted that all but two or three were related.

Vannoy said her husband is playing in a tournament nearly every weekend, including this weekend in Steamboat, and she willingly goes to as many as she can to show support. There are no summer vacations when a spouse is on a competitive slow-pitch softball team.

"I look at it from the point of view that he enjoys it and the family enjoys it, so there's no reason not to go," Vannoy said.

But there's extra incentive to come to Steamboat during the Fourth of July weekend. Vannoy enjoys the escape to the mountains. So does her 5-year-old daughter, Angelique Hernandez, who was clinging tightly to her mother's leg Saturday. Hernandez enjoys traveling to Steamboat so much she couldn't list just one thing she liked, so she gave two.

"Ice cream and swimming," she said.

Activities such as swimming help pass the time for players and their families while they are in Steamboat -- if they have free time.

Between playing in her own softball games and scoring the games that her brother, brother-in-law and boyfriend were playing in for Playboyz, Andrea Jimenez said sleeping was her priority.

Saturday, Jimenez and Carla Hinojosa, who was watching her son and husband on Playboyz, found prime seats in the shade. The weather hadn't cooperated with Triple Crown during its first few weekends in Steamboat, but the skies cleared this week and the temperatures climbed back into the 80s for the Fourth of July tournament.

Playboyz is a relatively new squad, so this was the team's first appearance in the Steamboat tournament and the first time in several years Hinojosa has been to Steamboat, she said. As many spectators could attest Saturday, softball is an all-consuming sport for men and women alike during the summer. But like Vannoy, Hinojosa enjoys watching her family play the game.

"We work our schedule around softball quite a bit," she said.

She is a seasoned spectator and knows exactly what to bring to summer tournaments that last hours on end: sunflower seeds, sunscreen and a lawn chair.

The Triple Crown tournament wraps up today with the championships at Howelsen Hill. For those teams not in a hurry to race back home to prepare for another workweek, the city of Steamboat Springs is setting off fireworks about 9:30 p.m. at Howelsen Hill.


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