Jul 13, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorU.S. Energy manager Mark Stone guided his fastpitch softball program to a second-place finish Sunday at the state tournament in the Under-18 division in Rock Springs.
The Cheyenne Extreme ended the bid for a state championship with a 12-1 victory over U.S. Energy in the title game.
The Riverton-based team had players from Lander, Riverton, Casper and Powell on the roster, which included Rachel Rapp, Jade Hernandez, Kiyana Martin, Tylyn Caines, Courtney Hazelton, Sheridan Smith, Bri Siebert, Hannah Soll, Dayna Zertuche, Kendall Krumland, Christina Martinsen and Freddie Armajo.
"This team really came together and by the end of the season they were pretty good," Stone said. "It's really too bad that we didn't get to another tournament or two, because this team really could have done something."
This was the 14th season Stone coached a U.S. Energy team to the state tournament.
"I'm thinking about putting a traveling team together for a fall ball series," Stone said. "We will play Rock Springs, Casper and Gillette. Getting to that championship game kind of makes you want to win one. I don't think that we can win one if don't get more games under our belt."
The Gillette Blue Jays, Riverton and the Cheyenne Extreme were the only three teams in the Under-18 division.
"It's just one of those things," said Stone about having three teams in the oldest division at state. "I wasn't sure for a while that Riverton was going to have an U18 team this year."
The tournament started with pool play. The teams from the U16 and U18 played against each other.
After pool play, tournament officials played a double-elimination bracket.
In the earlier games, the Gillette Blue Jays outlasted Riverton 14-13.
"We had the game in control, and to let it slip away is pretty disappointing," Stone said.
U.S. Energy bounced back to beat the Gillette Blue Jays 12-8 for a spot in the title game.
Caines and Hazelton are the two players Stone will lose because of age limit for next season.
Caines played first base and pitcher for U.S. Energy.
"Tylyn hadn't played for a few years, but she helped us out," Stone said. "By the end of the season, she was hitting the ball extremely well. She is glad that she played one more year. I'm glad that she played one more year."
Hazelton was the top pitcher for Stone.
"Courtney changes speeds well," Stone said.
Cheyenne Extreme 12, Riverton 1
"They were tight and they were nervous," Stone said.
Stone said most of his players had never played in a title game before.
"We started the game off with a couple of errors," Stone said.
The Cheyenne Extreme scored early and often vs. Riverton to cruise to the title.
"We made three or four more errors and you can't do that against a good team," Stone said.
Hazelton started for Riverton and took the loss.
"Courtney was changing speeds well," Stone said. "It wasn't her fault."
Stone said U.S. Energy couldn't get key hits.
"If we make the plays then that game at best would have been 3-1 or 2-1," Stone said. "We hit the ball hard, it was just right at them.
Riverton 12, Gillette 8
With a state title berth on the line, Riverton came up with a seven-run second inning.
"We were hitting the ball hard," Stone said.
Martin had a double for one of the longest hits in the game.
"We hit the ball well all weekend," Stone said.
Riverton added five more runs off Gillette's defense to go up 12-1.
Martin pitched for Riverton in the win.
Gillette Blue Jays 14, Riverton 13
In the first game of bracket play, the teams were tied at 1-1.
Riverton crossed home plate seven times in the top of the second for an 8-1 lead.
Gillette got things rolling in the bottom of the fourth by scoring eight runs to deadlock at 9-9. "In the second inning, our sticks really got going," Stone said.
Riverton answered back with four runs in the sixth for a 13-10 lead. Gillette scored four in the final frame to get the win.
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