They hit well, they ran bases well. Their pitching was excellent, and so was their defense.
But the Tri-County All Stars' softball team faced some tough Front Range teams at the state 12-and-under tournament, falling short of qualifying for the Babe Ruth Midwest Plains regional tournament in Burlington.
"The girls played their hearts out, they played really well," said coach R.J. Wist. "All in all we were very proud of the girls because they never gave up."
The Aurora Girls Softball Association, or AGSA, team, an all-star team pulled from several Denver area schools, went undefeated to win the tournament. SE Denver placed second.
Pool play was used to seed the six teams competing in the double-elimination tournament. Tri County, a team of league players from Hotchkiss and Paonia, opened with a 10-7 win over Southeast Denver, which attracts some of the best talent from the Denver area.
"A little league like Paonia going against a big-league team like that from Denver," said Wist, "Talk about David and Goliath."
Tri-County was down 2-1 going into the third inning. Runs by shortstop Emily Wilczek and Emily Pieper gave Tri County a 1-run lead, and the defense held Denver scoreless in the third and fourth innings. Kelsey Stroud, Pieper, Taralee Mautz and Courtney VanVleet scored in the fifth to give Tri-County a 10-3 lead. Denver attempted to rally, but fell short with only three runs in the final inning and ended the game on a fly out to right field.
Tri-County suffered a 6-1 loss to Centennial in game 2 of pool play, and entered the tournament seeded second. Tri-County then faced Santa Fe in game one of tournament bracket play.
"We just couldn't get going," said Wist. "We had a couple of bad innings and couldn't hit our stride." That allowed Santa Fe an early 10-1 lead.
Stroud was pitching well, but collided with a Santa Fe player in a pickle situation and caught a cleat to the mouth, bringing Brittney Kendall to the plate. "She did well, she threw well," but Santa Fe was a scrappy team and found a way to win, said Wist. "Their pitching was tough, and they had a good team."
Tri-County rallied at the end for three more runs, but lost in the bottom of the fourth under the 10-run rule. They were eliminated after an 11-6 loss to SE Denver. AGSA remained undefeated to win the tournament, and pitcher Zoey Robbins was named Championship Game MVP; SE Denver placed second, and both advanced to regionals.
Pieper, Tri-County's first base player, was named to the All-Tournament team.
Despite the losses, Wist said the tournament was a positive experience. "It's good for our girls to face this kind of talent."
Tri-County was also coached by Lonny Stroud and Tony Mautz. Wist said the team has a great deal of talent and drive and the coaches plan to take them to the U14 level next year. Coaches were already making plans for next summer, including possible tournaments with some of the Denver-area teams. "That would give us some experience against tougher talent," said Wist.blog comments powered by Disqus