Wednesday, August 31, 2005
The Steamboat Springs High School softball team enters its second season as a full-fledged varsity program.
Last year, the Sailors played the sport for the first time and didn't have a full schedule. Many of its opponents were junior varsity teams, and Steamboat had little trouble disposing of the younger teams.
This year, however, the Sailors find themselves in the Western Slope League, and the games won't be as easy.
But coach Donna Ryan said her six returning players should be that much better, as well.
"I can see a difference in certain aspects of the game that they are ahead on, skills like fielding and throwing," Ryan said. "Mentally, some are ahead, but I have a lot of new kids, too."
Returning players are Christie Fielding, Rebecca Hilterbrand, Kathleen Lyon, Kirsten Ryan, Anya Salzgeber and Leigh Thielen. Ryan was Steamboat's primary pitcher last year, but the senior also is committed to a club soccer team and will be available for only half the games.
"I have two junior pitchers that will get a lot of playing time this year, which should help next year's team," Ryan said.
Those pitchers are Fielding and Thielen. Five new additions to the team are Mataya Flaharty, Patricia Henderson, Darcy Hornstein, Priska Sorensen and an unknown player from Arizona who is joining the program soon, Ryan said.
"She has played softball before," Ryan said about the transfer student. "And that's a big softball state."
Ryan is continuing to try to create a softball mentality in Steamboat and Northwest Colorado.
Although slow-pitch softball opportunities exist nearby, there are obvious differences between hitting a slow lob and a fastball, changeup, curve or riser that remains below the batter's eye level.
Steamboat started this season Aug. 25 with a doubleheader at Delta, and it lost both games.
"They are pretty competitive," Ryan said about Delta. "I would say they are Top 2 or 3 in the league. The kids did improve each game."
Fielding allowed six runs in four innings, and Lyon scored Steamboat's only run and led the Sailors offensively.
Up next for Steamboat is a tournament at Middle Park on Friday and Saturday.