Jun 19, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorRiverton teams are preparing for the upcoming girls state fastpitch tournament beginning July 7 in Rock Springs.
The Gillette Heat blanked Riverton 9-0 to end the run for the home team Sunday afternoon in the Under-18 semifinals of the ninth annual U.S. Energy girls fastpitch tournament.
Riverton advanced to the contest after beating the Casper Strikers 10-4 in the opening round of the single-elimination bracket play in the three-day tournament in Riverton.
The Gillette Heat downed the Gillette Blue Jays 10-2 in the U18 title game at the Riverton softball complex.
The first two days were used for pool-play games.
"I saw a lot of improvement," Riverton U.S. Energy manager Mark Stone said. "We still can't give them four, five or six outs in an inning. Until the girls start making those plays we are not going to win a lot of games."
There were 25 teams in Riverton for the three-day tournament.
The other divisions were the U14, U12 and U10.
Baserunning mistakes hurt Riverton in the nine-run setback when a spot for the championship game was on the line.
In the first inning, U.S. Energy had a runner thrown out at home on a pickoff play by the Gillette pitcher, and the runner at second was gunned down for the third out at third base.
"That kind of took the wind out of us," Stone said.
Later in the game, Riverton recorded a base hit to left, but a runner was thrown out at third base to end the inning.
"You can't have those mistakes," Stone said.
Courtney Hazelton took the loss for Riverton on the mound.
Gillette broke the game wide open with a grand slam on a deep fly ball that went all the way to the fence.
"I was hoping that my pitcher would keep the ball down in the zone and inside," Stone said. "She put the ball up and outside in the zone."
In the win on Sunday morning, U.S. Energy was in control from the start.
Kaitlin Hillhouse pitched for Riverton in the win.
"We played really well in the opening game," Stone said. "They pitched well. It was a good solid game for us."
The state tournament is July 7-10 in Rock Springs.
"We need to focus in on defense," Stone said.
Kiyana Martin and Schuyler Davis were missing for Riverton last week. The pair will be back for the state tournament.
"When we get those players back this team will be pretty good," Stone said.
In the U14 division, Riverton had a 5-3 lead over Cody in the semifinals.
In the final frame of the game, the Pride scored five runs to edge Riverton 8-5 to eliminate the home squad from the tournament.
"I think that we did really good in the tournament," Riverton U14 manager Sarah Jennings said. "I think that we have come a long way in the last couple of years. We have a good team. We just need to work on few small things here and there."
In the title game, the Cody Pride beat the Rock Springs Storm 3-0.
"We were ahead of Cody for the good majority of the game," Jennings said. "We had a couple of simple errors in the final inning."
Riverton pounded the Gillette Blue Jays 14-0 in the first game of bracket play. Kelsie Wells pitched for Riverton.
"Kelsie did really well," Jennings said. "It was a really good game for us."
Riverton lost to the Gillette Heat 14-8 in the first game of U12 bracket play.
The Rock Springs Storm beat the Cody Pride 5-2 in the U12 championship game.
Riverton beat Green River 12-2 in a U10 opening round game.
The Gillette Blue Jays eliminated Riverton 13-2 in the semifinals.
In the U10 championship game, Vernal, Utah, outlasted the Gillette Blue Jays 13-8.
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