Friday afternoon saw the Colorado Cutthroats 8-and-under baseball team lose its fifth game in five tries at the Triple Crown Baseball World Series in Steamboat Springs. But the losses only tell a small portion of the story for the youth baseball team.
The team, playing in the 8-and-younger league, is playing under different circumstances than many of its opponents. While most teams in Triple Crown have been practicing together for several months, if not years in the older age groups, the Cutthroats have had just about one month with their entire roster available this summer.
Add that to the fact that the team is playing with a roster of 6- through 8-year-olds, and the expectations are a bit different.
“We’ve got 6-, 7- and 8-year-olds all playing on the same team, so we’re usually at a disadvantage, but that’s not what this is about,” said Mark Nielsen, the team’s coach. “At least with this, these kids get the chance to play and come out here and have fun. They aren’t sitting on the couch playing video games.”
But it’s not that they Cutthroats are a group of no-talent players, either. On the contrary, they boast strong athletes and skilled baseball players, as evidenced by the individual competitions also taking place at the World Series.
There are several skill competitions, including speed, accuracy and a home run derby that accompany tournament play during the weekend in Steamboat. For the Cutthroats, Easton Eckroth took first place in the accuracy contest.
“He blew them away in that, too,” Nielsen said about Eckroth’s performance. “He scored 24, and I believe the next best was 12 points, so that was very impressive from Easton.”
The largest issue for the Cutthroats in games is consistency. They struggle with errors in quick succession which lead to easy runs for their opponents. But Nielsen knows that is the type of problem corrected with repetition and practice, not overnight.
“I’m extremely pleased with what I’m seeing,” he said. “We played the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked team in the state of Colorado this week. The boys, they just make mental errors sometimes. They haven’t played as many games as these other kids.”
The Cutthroats play again at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and if they win, earn the right to work their way through the eight and under bracket. If they lose, though, Nielsen doesn’t see it being much of a problem.
“I asked them this week if they were having fun, and they said yes,” he said. “They’re still happy. That’s what I’m most happy with, is you never see any of these kids — no matter how bad the score is — throw a fit.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org