Moffat County youth baseball team overcoming odds this season
At a glance ...
Moffat County Cutthroats Next Tournament
• Colorado State Championships
• July 13-15
— Games held in Aurora, Parker, Louisville, Longmont and Castle Rock
“That’s outstanding to go in with nine weeks of practice and compete like that. I figured it was going to be tough not to get beaten 20-5 or something in some of those games. But the boys come to practice and give me 100 percent and they never complain.”
—Mark Nielsen, Moffat County Cutthroats coach, about his players’ resilient attitude toward baseball.
Playing at a disadvantage is usually a reason for players to make excuses and complain.
That is not the case for members of the Moffat Count Cutthroats, Craig’s only Triple Crown Sports baseball team.
Craig resident Mark Nielsen wanted to start a team, but to get enough interest he had to draw from several age groups.
Triple Crown tournaments are broken into age divisions, so players of the same age are going against each other. Nielsen didn’t have enough players of one age to field a team, so his combination of boys have to play in the age group of the oldest members of the team.
So when the Cutthroats played in their first tournament last weekend, the Steamboat Mountain Magic tournament, they played in the 12-year-old division with a roster of players ages 8-12.
The Cutthroats have also had much less practice than other teams playing in Triple Crown tournaments. Nielsen said other coaches told him they have been playing and practicing since March and had over 30 games under their belts when they came to Steamboat Springs last weekend.
Despite all the difficulties his team has to overcome to play competitively, Nielsen said those are really the reasons he loves his group of players.
“That’s outstanding to go in with nine weeks of practice and compete like that,” he said. “I figured it was going to be tough not to get beaten 20-5 or something in some of those games. But the boys come to practice and give me 100 percent and they never complain.”
The Cutthroats went 1-3 at Steamboat Mountain Magic and placed 13th out of 20 teams at the tournament.
Nielsen said they left too many runners on base to qualify for the playoffs, but he was beaming at the way his players held their own against such quality competition.
“I had coaches coming over and complimenting us, they couldn’t believe these were our first games of the season,” he said. “I mean, it was still tough going 1-3, but we scored 28 runs and left 15 more on base over four games, so we were in all of them.”
Now with the season-opening jitters out of the way, the Cutthroats are looking to improve on last weekend’s effort at their next tournament, the Triple Crown Colorado State Championships hosted July 13-15 in Aurora.
The State Championships will be another challenge. According to the event organizer Robert Rios, over 200 teams will be there from 13 divisions.
Whatever happens with the team this season, Nielsen is thrilled with the group of boys he has playing together.
“The bigger guys let the little guys play and help them out, they never pick on the little guys,” Nielsen said. “We run this team like a family and all the guys understand that you can’t win without great teamwork and that family orientation. They don’t get discouraged. It’s great.”