Triple Crown tourney to fill area ballfields |

Triple Crown tourney to fill area ballfields

Three area youth baseball teams are participating in this weekend’s Triple Crown tournament for different reasons, but the goal is the same.

It’s to gain baseball experience and, hopefully, earn a few wins as well.

A local team is involved in three of the six age-level Triple Crown tournaments that begin Friday morning at ballfields in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale and continue throughout the weekend.

Overall, 49 youth baseball teams, from ages 10-16, are scheduled to compete.

Most of the competing squads are from Denver, but there are teams from Cheyenne, Wyo., Park City, Utah, and Lincoln, Neb. as well.

All of the 49 teams are aiming for a berth to the Triple Crown World Series.

According to Triple Crown Sports Web site, the top three teams from each tournament receive invitations to the organization’s World Series in Steamboat Springs held in July and August.

Two of the area teams feature valley-wide rosters. Another squad consists of Rifle residents.

The area team involved in the U-16 team tournament at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, consists of high school-aged players from Glenwood, Rifle, Carbondale and Basalt.

Fred Bell, the Roaring Fork Valley team coordinator, hopes the team’s participation at this weekend’s tournament becomes a launching pad to forming a valley-wide high school league next summer.

“There’s a gap for high school players to play baseball in the valley.” said Bell. “That was the idea on why this team was formed. We hope to form a league next year so players can stay in the valley instead of traveling all the time.”

On playing in the Triple Crown tournament, Bell said, “The tournament is a pretty good cross section of teams and the kids are all pretty excited about playing. Now, we’ll see where we stand in the world of baseball.”

The team’s two coaches – Kennon Sneed and Travis Thompson – have given the team a good start.

Both were all-league selections and stars as preps at Rifle High. After graduation, Sneed and Thompson moved to college baseball.

Sneed is an infielder at Hastings (Neb.) College, a four-year NAIA school. After a year at Sterling (Kan.) College, Thompson transferred and was a catcher at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo. this past season.

Roaring Fork Valley opens the four-team tournament on Saturday with games at 12:30 and 2:45 p.m. against the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Sox and Chatfield of Littleton, respectively. The championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 12:20 p.m.

A Rifle team is playing in the U-12 division tournament at the River Valley Ranch ballfield in Carbondale.

This is the third Triple Crown tournament the 17-member team has participated in this season. Earlier, the Rifle squad competed in tournaments in Grand Junction and Delta.

“We wanted to give kids a chance to play against more competitive teams and to get on board with other programs in the state,” head coach Ray Davis said.

Rifle opens tournament play at 1:40 p.m., Friday against the Lincoln (Neb.) Sox, then resume action in the eight-team tournament with two games on Saturday. At 9:50 a.m., Rifle takes on the Colorado Sox from Arvada, then wraps up pool play with the Thornton Front Range Bombers at 1:30 p.m.

The first- and second-place teams out of pool play advance to Sunday’s semifinals. The winners from the semifinal games play for the division championship at 1:30 p.m.

The Valley Bandits, whose 13-member roster consists of Parachute, Rifle and Silt residents, are part of the 12-team, U-13 tournament slated to play at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs.

This is the first time the Bandits, a member the Western Slope Baseball Association, have participated in a Triple Crown Sports tournament.

Their pool-play schedule includes a 10:05 a.m. Friday contest against the Colorado Lightning from Centennial, another 10:05 a.m. game on Saturday with the Longmont Cardinals and a 8 a.m. match on Sunday against the Bear Creek Timberwolves of Morrison.

First-place teams from the three pools from the U-13 tournament, along with the team with the second-best overall win-loss record advance to Sunday’s semifinals.

Winners of the semifinals play for the division champion at 4:20 p.m.

Other Triple Crown tournaments this weekend include the five-team, U-10 division on Saturday and Sunday at Vogelaar Park in Glenwood. The U-11 tournament, with eight teams, will be played in Carbondale Friday-Sunday at the North Face Field.

The U-14 tournament opens Friday with games at Roaring Fork High and Glenwood Springs Middle School. On Saturday and Sunday, the entire 12-team tournament schedule will be held at the Glenwood Springs Middle School field.

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