Triple Crown kicks off

Summer tournament under way

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There will be no local representation in this weekend's Triple Crown Fastpitch Softball Tournament, but that doesn't change how excited many of the nearly 120 teams are to be taking part in the Steamboat Springs event.

"You always hear about the Steamboat tournament," Erin Doctor said. "There are a bunch of new teams from different cities or states we don't see."

Doctor plays for Arvada Ice, a 16-and-under team in the A division. Last season, the Ice took second in the same classification. Wednesday, Doctor and teammates Molly Frederick, K.C. Kingsfield and Courtney Ryan gathered under a tree for shade during the short break they were given from the three-day camp.

"Everywhere you go, you see softball players," Kingsfield said. "We checked into our hotel and the guy was like, 'Let me guess, softball players?'"

Softball is a growing sport in Colorado, and a majority of the teams in this weekend's Triple Crown tournament are from in state.

The three-day skills camp offered experienced players different ways to try things.

From 8 a.m. until mid-afternoon Tuesday through Thursday, hundreds of softball players dotted the fields at the base of Howelsen Hill as college coaches, players and other representatives from Triple Crown offered instruction on everything from base running to bunting -- both are essential in fastpitch softball.

"It's a learning thing," Frederick said. "The coaches give us new ways to do things."

Everyone agreed the days were long but fun, and coaches made sure the players were resting at night in preparation for the opening of the tournament today in Routt and Moffat counties.

The girls from Arvada Ice said they found time to raft, walk downtown and visit Strawberry Park Hot Springs.

This weekend's tournament is an A and B divisional tournament, allowing more players of varying levels the chance to compete. It will be the only fastpitch softball tournament in Steamboat this summer before the fields in Steamboat, Craig, Oak Creek and Hayden are taken over by baseball and adult slowpitch softball players later this summer.

Like baseball, softball has become an all-consuming sport for the youths in town this weekend. Between high school ball in the fall and spring and summer tournaments, the girls are playing softball year round.

But, considering many don't make the trip to Steamboat often, this week has served as the perfect combination of vacation and competition.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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