Summer ball in Steamboat “a great experience” | SteamboatToday.com

Summer ball in Steamboat “a great experience”

Storm expect to return to Steamboat next summer

— The season came to a lackluster end last week for the Steamboat Storm summer college baseball team.

The squad pulled off one win, against the Summit Extreme Black Diamonds, but lost, 12-8, to the Vail Vipers, falling to that squad for the second time in the double-elimination tournament that capped the season for the Mountain West Summer College Baseball League.

It was anything but a lackluster summer for the players, who hail mostly from small colleges and junior colleges in the Midwest, and for manager Matt Ellinghuysen, who is taking a break from his full-time job running the Bemidji State University baseball program.

Ellinghuysen said he and the team will be back next summer and that the league could expand to new mountain communities.

"It was a great experience," Ellinghuysen said. "For all of the guys, it was a great experience just to come out to Colorado. It's a place to play not many guys have gotten to play in before, and it was in a very competitive league that, next year, is only going to grow bigger and better."

This year's league featured five teams in Vail, Eagle Valley, Grand Junction and Summit County. Ellinghuysen said a team will be added next year to Montrose, then another to either Rifle or Breckenridge.

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He, too, plans on returning to Steamboat Springs to guide the Storm through another summer schedule.

"I'm really excited. Next year, we, as managers, get to pick our roster," he said. "This year, we got thrown guys. There will be a lot of familiar faces back from this year's team."

The team ended up 13-15 in the regular season, then 1-2 in the playoffs.

Pitching was the team's weak point, Ellinghuysen said, but the wins and losses were never really the point of the team's summer in Steamboat.

"Coming to play in Steamboat Springs, you can't pick a more beautiful place to play summer baseball," he said. "The guys made friendships, and on top of that, playing at a competitive level through the summer, they got their work in so they can improve when they are going back to their college teams."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9