County up and down at Triple Crown
July 25, 2008
It was a week of highs and lows for the South Summit Silver Strikers in their first-ever Triple Crown Word Series Girls Softball Tournament.
The team came onto the field firing, beating the Fort Collins (Colo.) Stars 8-6 in its very first game of the tournament on Tuesday. The Silver Strikers struggled on the defensive end, but made the most of their fourth inning to overcome 10 errors for the win.
In the next game, the Silver Strikers came up just short of a win against the Idaho Diamond Bandits, losing 3-2. Park City’s Aundrea Hargroder hit the team’s first home run in the loss.
"We played solid," Silver Strikers head coach Scott Chester said.
Things were a bit more frustrating on Wednesday as the Summit County girls lost games to the Colorado Wrath and the Scottsdale Heat by large margins. Although the girls showed moments of strong play, the team began to exhibit signs of exhaustion from the rigorous schedule, committing numerous errors. The team had been in nonstop tournament play since the previous Friday.
"Our girls are beat up," Chester said.
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They are also in a situation many of them have never been in. Most Triple Crown teams play year-round and boast a roster full of talent.
"These teams play 100 games a year. The Silver Strikers have played 10," Chester said after Wednesday’s games. "Plus, in high school competition, our girls may face three or four good players. In this tournament, there are nine good players on a team. They are good from top to bottom."
Chester said that as the girls gain more experience playing together as a team this summer, they will start having more success in tough tournament play.
Chester said that in pool play he moved the girls around a lot, trying to figure out what the best combinations would be for bracket play, which may have affected the outcome of the games.
The 1-3 record in pool play on Tuesday and Wednesday put the Strikers in the International Bracket, which pits the bottom 12 teams in the division against one another. Bracket play began Thursday.
Helped by the July 24 state holiday and extensive publicity, the girls faced their first team in the International Bracket in front of more than 100 local fans. The game, which was held at Park City High School, was delayed by an hour, but the Strikers were finally able to take the field. Unfortunately, the girls struggled against the Colorado Rumble team, quickly getting down 5-0 in the first inning. They had trouble recovering, despite a valiant effort from relief pitcher Ashley Clegg, and were eventually mercy ruled in the fourth inning when the score crept up to 11-2 in favor of the Rumble.
"When you get down early, you’re done," Chester said.
He said the girls are still adjusting to all the different plays that other teams use and playing in front of sizable home crowds.
He couldn’t say enough about the large Summit County crowd.
"It was amazing to see that many people watching a softball game in Park City. We appreciate all of the support within the community — the family and friends, and all these people in Summit County who’ve come out and supported us," Chester said. "Although today wasn’t a stellar performance, we’re really glad that they are there to support us and everyone should know softball is now here to stay in Summit County. We are going to continue to get better and continue to be able to compete."
Despite some disappointment, Chester said that the girls’ effort and participation meant a lot.
"They have an opportunity to do something they can remember their whole life," Chester said. "It’s not about winning the tournament. It’s that they got to play softball in Summit County. It means establishing to the softball community that Summit County can play softball."
Some of the Silver Striker girls were able to show off their skills in various exhibitions later in the week. Brittney Stokes took first place in the Speed Throw Skills Contest, qualifying for the finals on Friday. Hargroder and Rachel Rehfield were selected for the B Division All-Star Game on Thursday and the All-World All-Star game on Friday.