Oak Creek When a team is as young and inexperienced as the Steamboat Springs High School softball team, coaches look for small steps to show the program is improving.
While playing Rifle - one of the best teams in the league - might not be the best place to start looking for those positives, Sailors coach Maggie Garcia did find some silver linings in Saturday's 38-0 and 20-0 losses at the hands of the Bears.
"They held it together," Garcia said. "They didn't let the first game get to them. I told them to go out and have some fun, and they played much better."
With five regular starters nursing injuries - including the whole starting infield - Garcia said it was tough staying competitive against a team of Rifle's caliber.
"We had to go with new players," Garcia said. "Hopefully, we'll have those girls by the Rifle tournament. But we came back and battled. That first game was by far our worst loss of the year."
A bright spot for Steamboat, Garcia said, is the continuing improvement of pitcher Darcy Hornstein.
In only her first year of pitching, Garcia said Hornstein has shown the ability to potentially be a dominating pitcher.
"She's throwing bullets but has never had the experience up on the mound," Garcia said. "We're looking forward to her getting that experience next year."
Garcia said the losses aren't indicative of how well the team has progressed throughout the year.
With six games remaining in the year, Garcia said the team is finally starting to understand what the coaches have been trying to teach them all year.
In turn, she said, that improvement will hopefully lead to a win.
"It's very hard for us, but they're young," she said. "We have to deal with our broken ends and get them back into gear. They're learning slow, but they're learning."
Steamboat next plays at 4 p.m. Friday at home against Middle Park.