Plenty of baseball action this weekend
GSPI Sports Editor
Bats will be swinging in abundance this weekend in Garfield County.
Two tournaments are slated this weekend with the Rifle Wooden Bat Tournament kicking off today and the Triple Crown youth baseball tournament starting up Friday.
The Rifle Wooden Bat tourney features four high-school-aged teams at Deerfield Park Complex. The Triple Crown event features four divisions (U11, U12, U13, U14) with a total of 39 squads. Both tournaments run three days.
It is the first year for the Rifle event and the wooden bat element should add a new dimension for the squads from Rifle, Glenwood Springs, Palisade and Elizabeth.
“We’ve played in some wooden bat tournaments in the past, and you have to be more precise to hit the ball,” Rifle coach Troy Phillips said. “The scores tend to be a little lower and more defense oriented.
“It definitely keeps the scores down. That’s why I have a lot of respect for a major league hitter who can hit over .300,” he said, adding the major league players are also going against the very best pitching and defenses.
Phillips believes getting some cuts in with the wooden bats will help the prep or college-bound players next season when they return to the aluminum.
“I think it does help them improve just a little bit,” he said. “I think the thing that it helps the most is with pitch selection. They can get away with swinging with an aluminum bat at pitches way inside.
“In the long run it makes them better hitters because they choose better pitches.”
Rifle opens the tournament today at 8:30 a.m. against Palisade and plays Elizabeth at 5:30 p.m. Glenwood faces Elizabeth at 3 p.m. Many of the same players who fans saw on the field during high school games play for the same teams in the summer.
The Triple Crown Tournament will have plenty of unfamiliar faces, and some exceptional young talent, as teams travel from as far as Illinois and New Mexico to try to qualify for the Triple Crown World Finals to be held next month in Steamboat Springs. The top three squads in each age division advance to the World Finals.
Area players will be represented in each division on teams that, despite being attached to a specific town or area, draw players from Aspen to Rifle.
The Glenwood Dodgers compete in the 11-team U14 division and open Friday at 3:20 p.m. against the Columbine Rebels out of Littleton at Carbondale High School.
In the 12-team U13 division, Glenwood takes on Englewood’s Rocky Mountain Steel Friday at 3:20 p.m. at Two Rivers Park.
The Three River Rockcats is the local squad in the seven-team U12 division. The Rockcats take on the Colorado Bulldogs (Highlands Ranch) Friday at 10 a.m. at the River Valley Ranch field in Carbondale and then face the Broomfield Eagles at 11:50 a.m.
The Three River Devil Dogs play Friday at 3:20 p.m. at Sayre Field in Glenwood Springs against the Aurora Titans.
For a complete schedule for the tournament, go to http://www.triplecrownsports.com.
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