Jul 5, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorU.S. Energy manager Mark Stone is hoping a third-place finish last weekend in a girls fastpitch tournament in Utah will translate into a good showing Friday and Saturday at the state tournament in Rock Springs.
The Riverton-based team will play in the Under-18 division for the state crown. The Cheyenne Extreme and the Gillette Blue Jays are the two other squads in the division.
"We are playing well right now," Stone said. "All of the teams in the state bracket are pretty good."
The first day of the state tournament is for pool play. The second day is for double-elimination bracket play.
"We got it up to five or six teams a few years ago in U18," Stone said. "Now, we are in a low year again."
Stone felt the softball officials should have combined U18 and U16 into one bracket.
"There would have been eight teams," Stone said. "It would have been a better tournament."
The top pitcher for U.S. Energy is Courtney Hazelton. Hazelton lives in Casper but plays for Stone in the postseason.
"We just have to not make errors," Stone said. "I think Hazelton will keep us in the game. Courtney will be our workhorse."
Tylyn Caines and Kiyana Martin are the other pitchers for Riverton.
"We will use Tylyn and Kiyana if we need to," Stone said.
Christina Martinsen of Lander will play shortstop for U.S. Energy.
"She is pretty solid for us," Stone said.
Kendel Krumland and Hannah Soll will share time at catcher.
Riverton will field a team in the U14 division at the state tournament. Sarah Jennings is the manager for Riverton.
"They will have to play a little better than they have played," Stone said.
Stone's team played a tournament last Friday and Saturday in Grantsville, Utah.
"We went down there and saw 12 teams that we have never played before," Stone said. "Our pool had four teams in it, and those teams were tough."
In pool play, U.S. Energy lost 1-0 to Riverton, Utah. McKinley Earnest of Casper went the distance for U.S. Energy, but she won't be playing for U.S. Energy at the state tournament. The right-hander will play for the Casper Strikers in the U16 division at state.
"It was a great softball game," Stone said.
Earnest was Riverton's key pitcher for the entire tournament in Utah.
Riverton fell 7-5 to Grantsville, Utah, in the second game of pool play.
"We hit the ball well, and when you score five runs in fastpitch you should win," Stone said. 'It was a game that we should have won."
In the first game of bracket play, U.S. Energy edged Utah Extreme (Murray) 8-7. Riverton had a 7-0 lead and escaped with the one-run win.
In the next game of bracket play, U.S. Energy knocked off Riverton, Utah, 9-5 on Saturday morning.
"We played really good," Stone said.
The Blackout from Granstville downed U.S. Energy 7-2 in the semifinals to eliminate Riverton from the championship march.
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