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Softball’s best of the west

Phil SandovalGrand Junction CorespondentGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION – The All-Western Colorado team. Once it’s glanced at, surely this roster of honorees will be discussed. Hopefully, the product will please most. While we strive for those results, that’s not the reason why this project was taken on. Instead, it was to solve an issue that has been a burr in the britches of most who follow, coach and play high school sports on the Western Slope way beyond the 13 years I’ve been on the scene.I, along with those folks, have wondered – loudly at times – why it seems athletes who live on this side of the Continental Divide get overlooked when it comes to earning all-state recognition?For those of you who’ve read to this point I’m sure you agree.I, like you, anxiously wait to see who from the Western Slope earns a spot on each of the All-Colorado prep sports teams produced by Rocky Preps and the Denver Post.Likewise, after reading the results, I’ve come away scratching my head. Call me biased, but, I’ve seen too good, talented athletes not receive their proper due. Here’s the tangible result – The first All-Western Colorado Sport Writers Softball Team. Putting together postseason teams is not a new idea. Other newspapers, sports leagues, coaches and individuals have done so since the first ball was thrown or race was contested.The just-forming All-Western Colorado team was an idea crying to be done. Not now. Decades ago. All we did is just give it some legs. Emphasize we. An idea like this can not be accomplished without help. Make that a lot of help. After signing on as the Free Press Sports Editor, we brought together our loosely associated group of newspapers who share stories with us, which our regular readers have seen over the past 10 months. Together, we shared, then discussed the idea of putting together an All-Western Colorado prep team out. Everyone liked the idea. The question was which sport to begin with. Softball was the answer. That’s not to discredit boys golf. Or cross country or tennis or swimming. We had to start somewhere and someone had to run with the ball. That’s how I got involved. Input was asked from the sports staffs of Colorado News Media Group newspapers in Glenwood Springs, Rifle and Vail. We also sent e-mails out to the Cortez Journal, Craig Daily Press, Durango Herald, Montrose Daily News and the Steamboat Pilot to join in.A committee was formed from those who responded. And, with a lot of work, plus support from the softball coaches and the athletes, it came together.Today’s All-Western Colorado Sportswriters Softball Team is our first attempt. Jointly, our group wants this first squad toTeam: see page A18Team: from page 17act as a stepping stone for similar teams for years to come. Right now, plans are underway to form All-Western Colorado teams for boys soccer, girls volleyball and football. Those logistics, as the weather changes, have yet to be formalized. But we’re going ahead. Surely, some adaptations of each team’s selection process will have to be made. And we’re certainly open to suggestions. Team members from Rifle softball Megan McWilliams, Rifle, SeniorInfielder, 1st Team2007 Statistics: The 15-4 Bears’ top-hitting regular with a .518 batting average with a team-best 32 RBI’s and 3 home runs. Splitting time as Rifle’s shortstop and starting pitcher, complied a 7-2 win-loss record. Personal Seasonal Highlight: Being a member of the team and contributing in all of Rifle’s games.Biggest Influence in athletics: Parents and softball coaches Cindy Skinner and Troy Phillips. Alissa Skinner, Rifle, SeniorPitcher, 1st Team2007 Statistics: Complied a team-high 53 strikeouts in 53.2 innings pitched with a 1.83 earned run average. Also hit .413 with 26 hits in 63 at bats. Led Rifle in that department and runs scored with 32.Personal Seasonal Highlight: Playing with long-time teammates Marissa Wilkins, Tamara Kaczmarek and fellow All-Western Colorado picks Mc Williams and Chelsea Webb.Biggest Influence in athletics: Mom and Rifle head softball coach Cindy Skinner “She has helped me push myself.” Credits Western Slope Golden Eagles coach Tom Cassera with improvement on personal skills.Other Highlights: All-state academic award-winner. All Western Slope League honoree in softball and basketball. Chelsea Webb, Rifle, SeniorCatcher, 2nd Team2007 Statistics: Hit .446 on the year with 27 RBI’s. Ten of her 25 hits were for extra bases.Personal Seasonal Highlight: Having a great season as a member of the 2007 Bears.Biggest Influence in athletics: “My teammates. They are the best.”Other Highlights: Class 4A, All-Western Slope League girls soccer and basketball teams.


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