The Tri-County Slammers went 1-3 to place fourth at the Babe Ruth 14U Midwest Plains Regional Softball Tournament, held July 19-24, at Independence, Kan.
"There were some outstanding teams there," said head coach Matt Hall, including the Southeast Denver All-Stars, who went undefeated to win the state tournament in Paonia.
Many of those players were on the 12U state championship team two years ago.
Tri-county, a team of players from the Paonia and Hotchkiss areas, advanced to the regional tournament after pulling off a hard-fought win over Castle Rock in the semifinals of the state tournament to place second. State competition was held July 6-8, at Volunteer Park in Paonia.
The Slammers had lost three very tough games against the all-star team from Independence, Kan., the Missouri state champion, Booneville All-Stars, and Southeast Denver, which went undefeated to win the Colorado tournament.
Going from Paonia to Independence was a bit of a shock for the players. The heat and humidity "was definitely something our girls weren't used to," said Hall. In their opening elimination game, starting pitcher Lacey Rodriguez was unable to pitch, and Samantha Galley took over. Galley was also overcome by the heat.
Once they adjusted and increased their water intake, the girls were able to get serious. They found themselves in a win-or-go-home situation against Kansas on Saturday afternoon, pulling off a two-run (7-5) win. It was much like their win over Castle Rock during the state tournament, said Hall. "They just put all the plays together, they never quit, and they never got down."
The Slammers also garnered the Midwest Plains Region's Norm and Colleen Travis Sportsmanship Award, which was begun last year in honor of the Independence couple, who have dedicated much of their lives to the sport. Colleen died in 2011. Midwest Plains regional commissioner Owen Kaufman told the team that the award was considered a higher honor than actually winning the tournament.
"It shows where our focus is," said Hall. "Regardless of whether they win or lose, they always show good sportsmanship."
For each tournament game played, one player receives the SHE Award, which recognizes a player's sportsmanship, hustle and enthusiasm. Five Slammers players were honored with the award, including Hailey Lofley, Lacey Rodriguez, Samantha Galley, Cambry Hall and Shelby Rogers.
Boonville went on to defeat Independence to win the tournament and advance to the national tournament, scheduled for Aug. 9-14, in Massachusetts. Southeast Denver placed third.
Hall and assistant coach Andrea Lofley said that the trip was made possible due to tremendous support from both communities and several businesses.
Hall is head coach of Delta County's second high school softball team, which will be based in Cedaredge this fall. Delta, the original site of Delta County's softball team, will be coached by Steve Reiher and Will Nelson with Delta athletes filling that roster.
Hall said he anticipates some of the Slammers players will be on his roster, and that the state and regional tournaments will benefit them in the future. "It was a great experience," said Hall, "and something the girls will always have."blog comments powered by Disqus