Little League builds a foundation

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— With all three Steamboat Springs Little League divisions playing championship games Saturday at the Emerald Park fields, the Junior League Yankees and Angels staged an extra-inning, back and forth game.

When the game finally ended after eight innings, the Yankees were crowned champions, capping off a fun-filled day at Emerald Park.

Players, coaches and fans conceded that the Little League season was an outstanding success.

"It was a good season," said Mark Witcher, who helped coach the 11- and 12-year-old Padres team. "I think the kids had fun. They learned a lot and really picked up some skills.

The Yankees 13- and 14-year-old team won the Junior division championship, the 11- and 12-year-old Mariners won the Majors division, and the 9- and 10-year-old Yankees won the Minors division.

"It was fun," Rockies coach Mike Jeep said. "The most fun thing about this year was how competitive all the teams were."

Doug Wood, whose Angels team lost to the Junior Yankees, said he was happy to see so many children still playing baseball. Wood, who also coaches a middle school AAU basketball team, has seen a lot of players migrate to other sports.

"The kids had a good time in good weather, and there weren't any injuries," he said. "I am just happy these guys have stuck around and played."

The Junior division league is designed to prepare players for high school baseball. Wood and Yankees coach Andy Hogrefe agreed that watching the older players take a leadership role made the season.

"Their mental part of the game sharpened up," Hogrefe said. "It's been a great season working through and staying tough when they are down."

Coaches of the younger players said they hoped to teach the fundamentals of the game to help their players be successful in the future.

Jeep compared the process to building a house.

"Right now we're putting in the footers," he said. "Maybe next year we can pour the foundation."

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