Local teams prepare for Triple Crown

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June 1, 2011: Triple Crown lands in Steamboat on June 9

— Pat McElhiney wants to see baseball in Steamboat Springs remain strong.

So along with fellow coach Chauncey Cooke, McElhiney has been working with a core group of 11-year-olds since Steamboat Ski Area closed.

It hasn’t been easy. The team generally has been relegated to indoor practices and asphalt infield work.

The team played in a tournament in Denver and lost two and tied one. But from there, the team has swept doubleheaders with Meeker, Craig and Eagle Valley.

Now, the youths have a chance to finally play at home.

The 11-year-old Steamboat team will play in this weekend’s Triple Crown Mountain Magic baseball tournament. The team is in a 20-team bracket.

“For a bunch of kids who haven’t played much on grass, we’ve done pretty well,” McElhiney said.

The team opens play at 8 a.m. Friday at Ski Town Fields. The team also will play a 10 a.m. game. Then the team plays at 10 a.m. and noon Saturday in Hayden. Depending on how the team does, it could play more games on Sunday.

“Our goal is to be competitive in the state,” McElhiney said. “We’d love to win this tournament. But they get better every week. It’s good stuff.”

Summit Extreme to play

The Summit Extreme 14-and-under baseball team, comprising players from Steamboat Springs, Boulder, Fort Collins and Summit County, also will play in a Triple Crown Mountain Magic tournament this weekend in Steamboat.

The team, which includes Steamboat players Jesse Pugh and Koby Bishop, plays at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Friday in Hayden and at 2:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Saturday at Adams Field at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat.

The top six teams from Friday and Saturday’s action advance to a seeded bracket Sunday.

The Summit team already has been highly successful this season. The team is 21-9 against Colorado teams this year and has finished in the top three at all but two of the tournaments it has played in.

The team recently won the Battle of Fort Collins and finished second at the Fort Collins Springs Baseball Championship and second at the Junior College World Series Triple Crown tournament.

“Everything has to go well, and it starts with pitching,” said co-coach Tim Bishop, who plans to have all 12 players on the team pitch this weekend. “We’re hoping our pitching and arms stay strong. Every tournament we go into we expect to win it. It doesn’t always happen, but we know we can. It’s nice to have that much confidence in the boys.”

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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