Though her team's stay wound up being a brief one, Rifle softball coach Cindy Skinner believes there was much to be gleaned from Friday's Class 3A state tournament.
"It was a great opportunity to see a different level of ball playing," Skinner said by phone on Friday. "To get out on that big field - not that it's actually any bigger, but it feels bigger - was exciting for the girls."
Skinner's 16th-seeded Bears were beaten by Berthoud, 20-0, in mercy-rule fashion at Aurora Sports Park. The first-round game lasted just three innings.
Brittany Middleton doubled and Emma Speer had a single to account for Rifle's two hits.
Berthoud, owner of the tourney's No. 1 seed, had no shortage of offense, taking an 18-0 lead after just two innings.
"They hit the ball really well," Skinner said. "We made a few errors, which didn't help. A lot of it was first-time jitters. Getting over there and having that experience is only going to benefit them."
The future does appear bright for the Bears, who brought seven freshmen to Aurora and will lose just four seniors heading into 2011.
"We're already looking forward to next year," Skinner said.
Though their game had ended, Skinner and a number of players stuck around to take in a few other tournament games. All three classifications of softball - 3A, 4A and 5A - were staging their state tournaments at Aurora Sports Park.
"We watched Fruita, [Grand Junction] Central and then went back over to watch Berthoud [in the second round]," Skinner said. "I think that's real important. They enjoyed watching the games."
The Bears finished up 2010 with an 8-12 record.