Stevie Brumback, the 11-year-old pitcher for Craig Burger King, was one of more than 156 girls to take the Loudy-Simpson softball fields for the end-of-the-year youth softball tournament.
For Brumback and her team the tournament seemed to be easy pickings. The team won its first two games by a combined score of 14-4. No false sense of security has been instilled in the girls, in fact, quite the opposite is true.
"I was pretty nervous going into the tournament, because I wanted to win so bad," Brumback said. "I just keep believing in my team, and it seems to be working because we keep pulling it off."
The two-day, end-of-the-year tournament, which started Thursday, is the youth girls softball's champion maker. If a team can survive the double elimination, while transcending the four levels of brackets, it will be the overall winner of the season.
This year's tournament has seen a lot of out-of-town teams taking the field for the Craig league tournament. Hayden, Oak Creek, and Steamboat Springs all sent representatives to the tournament.
"The tournament is about the same as it has been in the past, with the exception of more out-of-town teams than we've seen in awhile," Parks and Recreation Department Administrator Pam Breathauer said.
Emotions run high during tournament time, but that's all part of the game, and also one of the reasons why the coaches are there. A youth softball coach teaches not only the fundamentals of batting and fielding, but the fundamentals of being a good winner and loser.
"The girls really take the games seriously, and that's one of my biggest duties, making sure that doesn't become a factor," Burger King coach Derin Grove said. "I just try and get them to roll with the punches. If they win, they win. If they lose, they lose they'll all get to play another day."
In return, the coaches are repaid with a front row seat to watch the girl's improve, which according to Grove, is the biggest thrill of coaching.
The 2001 youth girls softball champion will be crowned today, while 12 other teams will be put off until next year, when many of the girls will move onto the next level.
Brumback is one of them, as She will move next to the 12- to 16-year-old category next year. Many other players, though, will not have the same opportunity
Too old to play in the Parks and Recreation Department's league, and no team to play for at the high school level, this may be the last exposure that some girls have to the game.
Right now, though, it's only the next game that Brumback is worried about.
"We've worked hard this year, and have had a big tournament so far," she said. "Hopefully we can keep it going."