Jul 12, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorThe teams in the Under-18 division this year U.S.R00;Energy of Riverton, Central Wyoming Fusion, the Gillette Camels, Cheyenne Extreme and the Cheyenne Fuzion.
Riverton U.S. Energy fastpitch softball manager Mark Stone said he expects the Under-18 division this weekend at the girls state tournament in Cheyenne to be fierce.
The tournament started Friday with pool-play games. A double-elimination championship bracket starts at 8 a.m. Saturday.
The teams in the U18 division this year are U.S. Energy, Central Wyoming Fusion, the Gillette Camels, Cheyenne Extreme and the Cheyenne Fuzion.
"Cheyenne Extreme, Gillette and Riverton all can win the tournament. We have developed a pretty intense rivalry," Stone said. "The Central Wyoming team and the Cheyenne Fuzion will be longshots to win. They are both capable of pulling off an upset as well."
During the season, Riverton went 2-3 vs Gillette, 0-1 vs. the Cheyenne Extreme and 4-0 vs. Central Wyoming.
"Since the Riverton tournament in the middle of June our hitting has improved the most," Stone said.
"Early in the season, we had not been getting much production out of our No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 hitters in the lineup. In the last three weeks those hitters have really come on and are hitting the ball very well."
Riverton lost in the championship game to Gillette at the Gillette tournament two weeks ago.
In the title contest, Caroline DeWitt hit a towering three-run homer.
Stone said Hannah Soll and Freddie Armajo are hitting the ball with a lot of contact in the middle of the lineup.
"I think most importantly our team has to come out and get an early lead," Stone said. "We have won almost every game this year that we have scored first in. Of course solid defense and timely hitting will be important as well. Our pitching has been stellar all season."
McKinley Earnest and Jordan Love are the pitching tandem for Riverton.
"McKinley is our ace," Stone said. "She has the ability to be a shutdown pitcher. Jordan is pitching well. Both the pitchers have excellent control. They will keep us in the game."
Maddi Nipper is the third pitcher in the rotation.
Christina Martinsen is the starting third baseman. Soll plays short. Brie Siebert spends her time at second. Dayna Zertuche or Andrea Roseno will play first.
"Christina has been our most consistent infielder all year," Stone said.
Carolina Dewitt and Kendall Krumland rotate in at catcher.
"We are very fortunate to have two very good catchers," Stone said. "When they are not catching, they will be in the lineup somewhere."
Love starts in center for Riverton. When Love is pitching, Katelyn Jennings plays center. Randy Miller, Armajo and Earnest will also play in the outfield.
"They all are very capable and do a good job," Stone said.
The bench players are Sierra Hernandez, Nipper and Danielle Blanco.
"It has been very nice having 15 players on the roster this year," Stone said. "It has allowed us to play a lot of situational-type substitutions."
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