Relaxed rivalry

Tense battles between Soroco, Craig teams may have simmered

Editor's note: This is the first story in a series in cooperation with Craig Parks and Recreation Director Dave Pike, who will pick out a game every week to be featured in the Craig Daily Press.

The pep talk after the game wasn't one that most high school athletes would hear after falling just short of a win, but coach Nicole Beckum wasn't too concerned about her team's loss.

"Listen up girls, I'm real proud of you," she said. "You've been hitting the ball and playing great. We almost won."

Competition and winning seemed to take a back seat Wednesday at Loudy Simpson when Beckum's CBS Backhoe team lost 9-8 to Soroco.

"If this was a real high school sport, I don't think I would play," CBS first baseman Cassandra Vigil said. "This is really laid back and not too competitive."

The Craig Parks and Recreation softball league for girls ages 12 to 16 has a different look than the similar game played by boys their same age.

Not everybody has uniforms, routine fly balls are never routine and, at least on Wednesday, there weren't any parents or coaches yelling at umpires.

"We have the goal to win," Beckum said. "But there isn't a lot of pressure."

In the other team's dugout, attitudes were a touch different.

"We get up for games against Craig," said Amanda Willman. "We're such a small town, we rally together when we come here."

The Soroco team makes a road trip every Wednesday to Craig for games. Soroco coach John Bartlett liked what he saw after this week's trip.

"Our batting has come a long way the last two weeks," he said. "We played like we should."

Sherma Ray umpired the game and her attitude contributed to the laid-back atmosphere. She talked with the pitcher and batter after every pitch and nearly always finished her sentences with a laugh.

"I've coached and umpired here for 30 years," she said. "There is a different attitude than there used to be."

Ray said five years ago, when Soroco came to play in just the tournament, the tension was thicker than a double order of chili cheese fries.

"It used to be real intense with parents and coaches going back and forth," she said. "Ever since Soroco joined the league, things have been a bit different."

Shawna Boatright, 17 of CBS, has played in the league for five years and said she has seen the same change.

"We used to be afraid to play Soroco because they were so mean," she said. "Now it's not too bad."

Hayden, Soroco and Craig teams play in the league and typically the small town teams are at the top.

"Soroco and Hayden teams are usually way better because they have the same girls together every year," Ray said. "There are a number of teams for Craig and they never have the same players of coaches."

Bartlett said he thinks that evens it out for the small teams.

"These girls have been together for three years so we've got a good group," he said. "We come up here and know we can compete."

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