Inaugural Steamboat softball season finishes a success

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The inaugural season for the Steamboat Springs softball team came to an end in the first round of the Western Slope District Tournament on Oct. 16.

Eagle Valley, the No. 2 seed for the tournament, eliminated Steamboat, 10-2, in Palisade.

The Devils went on to win the tournament before losing in the first round of regional play last weekend.

Steamboat wrapped up the season 10-1 overall, defeating Delta's varsity squad and a talented junior varsity squad from Rifle three times during the regular season. It was the softball program's first year as a high school sport.

Most of Steamboat's team is expected to return next season.

Steamboat jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead against Eagle Valley in the top of the first inning in the Oct. 16 game. Kathleen Lyon led off with a wale. Leigh Thielen moved Lyon over with a single, and Kirsten Ryan drove Lyon home with an RBI-single.

Eagle Valley slowly began to pull away, tying the score in the second and going ahead 3-1 after three innings. The Devils' biggest inning came in the fifth when the Sailors' made three errors, which attributed to Eagle Valley's four unearned runs.

The Devils went ahead 10-1 in the sixth, but the Sailors scored once more in the top of the seventh, as the game ended 10-2.

Steamboat's Stephanie Engle led off with a walk, and Anya Salzgeber moved Engle to second on a ground out. Engle advanced to third on Christy Fielding's single and scored off Rebecca Hilterbrand's RBI-ground out.

Ryan pitched six innings, striking out eight and walking three.

"We played well except for that (fifth inning)," assistant coach Gary Engle said. "Eagle Valley bunted a lot and took advantage of our lack of experience in being able to perform excellent bunt coverage."

Eagle Valley was the best team Steamboat had faced to date, and the Sailors came up against a team skilled in the most basic element of softball: manufacturing runs.

"We made plays," Engle said. "The real difference was their bunting and the aggressive base running. ... All in all, it was a great season."

The league coaches recognized three players for their play this season, despite that few league coaches actually saw Steamboat play.

Ryan was named to the Western Slope League's first team, and Lyon and Rachel Hilterbrand were honorable mention All-league selections.

Pueblo West won the Class 4A state title, Loveland was the 5A state champion, and Erie won its fifth-straight championship in 3A.

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

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