Friday, September 24, 2004
Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs softball team remains undefeated in its inaugural season, beating Basalt in both games of a doubleheader Thursday in Basalt.
The Sailors held on to defeat the Longhorns, 8-5, in Game 1. In the second game, however, Steamboat had little trouble with Basalt, defeating the home team 16-3 in five innings.
The two wins move Steamboat's record to 5-0 this season.
"They are having a lot of fun, and they are looking really sharp as a team," coach Donna Ryan said.
For the most part, the Sailors haven't faced tough competition this season, Ryan said, but considering that they are comprised of a few experienced players and many relative newcomers, they have come together well and helped each other improve in the team's first month of existence.
"It's not an easy sport to pick up," Ryan said. "There is so much more than basic skills. They have picked it up so fast. I think it has a lot to do with those players that do play at (a high) level."
While many players have contributed to the Sailors' five wins, there are four players at key positions who have stepped up to lead Steamboat: Kirsten Ryan at pitcher, Kathleen Lyon at catcher, Rachel Hilterbrand at shortstop and Jenna Hammerslag at first. In softball, much like baseball, having experienced players at those positions can go a long way in determining a team's success.
So, while the Sailors are a new team, they didn't enter their inaugural season having to start from the bottom up. However, Ryan did have to teach a number of players the basics of throwing and hitting a softball.
"I started out teaching what you would teach tee ballers," she said.
It's been worth it. Steamboat's first true test this season comes Tuesday when it travels to face Delta, one of the state's top teams in Class 4A.
"It will come at a perfect time," Ryan said. "It's in the middle of the season."
On Thursday, Steamboat jumped out to a 7-1 lead before the Longhorns crept back in during the bottom of the sixth. Walks, errors and one timely hit opened the door for Basalt.
Steamboat scored once in the top of the seventh and held Basalt scoreless in the bottom of the seventh to win, 8-5. Leading the Sailors in Game 1 was Kirsten Ryan, who struck out nine batters and walked four. Ryan has faced 112 batters in three games this season, striking out 42.
At the plate, Hilterbrand was 1-of-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Lyon was 2-of-2 with two runs scored and one RBI.
In the second game, Leigh Thielen and Christie Fielding combined to throw five solid innings. Both are learning how to pitch, but they throw strikes and on Thursday, their defense did a good job of helping them out.
Thielen also was 2-of-2 at the plate with two runs scored and two RBIs. Stephanie Engle was 1-of-2 with a double and 2 runs scored in the shortened game.
Steamboat's next home game is Thursday against Aspen. A time has not been set for that game.
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