Jun 17, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorU.S. Energy girls fastpitch softball manager Mark Stone called the Gillette Blue Jays the early frontrunner to win the Under-18 title Sunday in the three-day tournament in Riverton.
Riverton U18 team opened the ninth annual U.S. Energy tournament holding its own in a 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Friday night in the first game of pool play.
The first two days of the tournament are used for pool play. The single-elimination tournament will be played on Sunday.
Games are played on the Martha, Everett, Jellis and Williams softball fields.
"They made a few errors that they just can't make in routine plays in the infield," Stone said. "We have to make those plays if we are going to stay in the game with that type of competition. Our pitcher pitched well. We just didn't make the plays when we needed to make. The team showed a lot of heart and desire. They will get better."
The Rock Springs Storm defeated U.S. Energy 8-3 on the final game on Friday under the lights.
The title games are planned for Sunday afternoon. The tournament has divisions for U10, U12, U14 and U18 teams.
"The Riverton tournament is one of our favorites," Gillette U18 manager Justin Conner said. "The girls love coming here. The people in Riverton are great."
Last weekend, the Gillette Blue Jays took second in a tournament in Cheyenne.
"The U18 girls have been working out since January," Conner said. "Our American Legion has an indoor facility. They let us use it once in awhile."
The other teams in the U18 division in Riverton are the Gillette Heat and the Casper Strikers.
"In the U18 division, you can't make errors," Stone said. "If you make three or four errors, then you are going to lose the ballgame."
Results from the three-day tournament will be published this week.
Gillette opened the tournament by scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Gillette had a two-run double and a single for the 3-0 lead.
The Blue Jays scored two more runs on a throwing error after the Gillette player bunted the ball. Gillette crossed home plate on an RBI single for a 6-0 advantage and put two more runs in the frame to make the scoreboard read 7-0. Courtney Hazelton pitched all five innings for Riverton.
In the top of the fourth, Hannah Soll ripped a double. Sheridan Smith singled to set up a Kendal Krumland RBI single.
Smith scored on a Gillette error to cut it to 7-2 and added one more run in the frame to pull within 7-3. Gillette kept Riverton scoreless in the top of the fifth for the four-run victory.
In the nightcap, Tylyn Caines pitched the five innings and took the loss. The games in the tournament have a 75-minute time limit.
Riverton drew a tough opponent in the opening game with the Cody Pride Friday night in the U14 division.
The Pride pulled out a 5-3 victory over Riverton.
"I thought that we came out and played really well," Riverton coach Hattie Calvert said. "Cody is a very good team, and very disciplined."
Riverton starting pitcher Kelsey Wells recorded five strikeouts in the first two innings. Cody scored its runs in the third and fourth innings.
"Kelsey works very hard on the mound," Calvert said. "She just throws strikes. She doesn't walk a lot of batters."
Riverton's Nancy Webb anchors the infield from her shortstop position. Sierra Hernandez anchors the outfield in center field.
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