The Northwest Colorado Lynx open their Triple Crown season this weekend. The baseball team made up of boys 12 and younger began practice more than a month ago in preparation for a summer full of tournaments.
"They are ready to go," coach Shane Camilletti said. "We are Division 1 this year, for the most part. The kids are excited about the move up. They are ready for it."
The team of children from Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Craig and Meeker won't play in the area until June 17, but the Triple Crown season in Steamboat and neighboring communities opens June 6 with the Triple Crown Girls Fastpitch Softball School. The only fastpitch tournament of the summer begins June 9 and runs through June 12.
It should be a busy summer in Northwest Colorado, said Sean Hardy, national baseball director for Triple Crown Sports. The schedule and numbers are the same or slightly higher than last year's, he said.
"The fastpitch softball tournament has 20 to 25 additional teams from last year," Hardy said. "Baseball is about the same. The June tournaments are mostly Colorado teams that make it a traditional weekend. For the World Series, those teams have to qualify to even come to Steamboat. Now, what we are really doing as a company is geographically getting into new markets, like Seattle. Now, Seattle teams may qualify and come to Steamboat."
Between last summer and this summer, the city of Steamboat Springs put in new infields at the Ski Town fields and worked on the backstops at Howelsen Hill fields. Hardy said Triple Crown Sports is appreciative of the improvements and thinks the coaches and players will be pleased when they come here this season.
One notable change is the relocation of two World Series championships. Instead of playing in Steamboat, the 16- and 18-year-old teams will play in Grand Junction.
"It's a good move for those guys as far as venue and a good move for us to satisfy the demand for Steamboat for the youth teams 15 and younger," said Thad Anderson, Colorado division director for Triple Crown.
The Grand Junction fields will accommodate the older, more mature baseball players, allowing Triple Crown more scheduling flexibility.
Triple Crown also added a Division 3 level to go along with its popular Division 1 and 2 levels. Anderson called Division 3 "high-end recreational baseball." In other words, it's a division for players and parents not interested in a heavy competition and travel schedule.
The Division 3 tournament is June 24 to 26 and is being held exclusively in Steamboat this season.
"There is a demand for that kind of experience," Anderson said. "Again, it goes back to the concept to make it where everyone in the family can enjoy it. There are teams at that level who don't want to get deep into our tournament series but want something fun to do."
For questions about sponsorship opportunities call Anderson at the Triple Crown offices at 970-223-6644.