Eyeing victory

Girls take a swing at World Series title

Eric Rineer

— As the opposing defense echoed her own team’s chant, Tucson’s Lori Lopez dug into the batter’s box at Klumker Field Saturday.

“Hey batter strike out!” yelled the Colorado Springs defense in a rhythmic chant as Lopez crouched into her stance at home plate.

Unfazed by the taunts, Lopez cracked a hard shot to the outfield that brought home two runs to give Tucson an 8-7 win, sending it to the championship against Paradise Valley, also from Arizona.

The hit silenced the Colorado Springs players.

“It’s not that hard to block out,” said Lopez after delivering the winning RBI.

Tucson, which competes in the girls 10-and-under division, is one of 108 visiting girls softball teams at this weekend’s Triple Crown World Series fast-pitch tournament in Steamboat Springs.

Eighty-eight teams came from out of state, said David King, Triple Crown Sports president.

In the early stages of the Klumker Field matchup, it was Tucson that taunted the Colorado Springs batters with the same “Hey batter strike out!”

“At this age level, the girls have a tendency to daydream a little,” Tucson coach Eric Hardt said. “When they cheer, it keeps them in the game more.”

With Tucson behind 7-6 with three minutes to go the game played under a 90-minute time limit the Arizona moms took over in the cheering section.

They let flow: “We NEED a hit, gotta have a hit. We WANT a hit, gotta have a hit.”

As if 40 mph fastballs weren’t intimidating enough for the young sluggers, the ear-popping chants from the teams’ defenses posed another tough challenge for the batters.

“It’s just competitive,” said Gina Espinoza, whose daughter, Illiana, was the winning pitcher Saturday.

“I think it distracts the batter,” she said.

Lopez’s mother, Hilda Lopez, said chanting is OK in little league softball because it fires up the players.

“Swing batter batter SWING!” and “batter, batter, batter SWING!” are other popular chants these days in little league softball and baseball.

“As long as there are no personal taunts, directed toward a specific player, things are kind of all good in love and war,” said Brad Pervell, a Colorado Springs softball parent.

“When it gets out of control is when the parents say it from the stands,” he said.

In a girls U-18 game that followed the Tucson vs. Colorado Springs game at Klumker Field, the only noises that could be heard coming from the infield were occasional grunts.

The teams’ pitchers, after underhanding balls across the plate at about 60 mph, sounded like pro tennis’ Monica Seles who is known for her loud grunts.

“When we get out there, we just support our pitcher and don’t say anything,” said Shelby Dorothy, who plays second base for Denver’s U-18 Colorado Expos.

“But, it shows a lot of team spirit when teams are (chanting),” she said. “It pumps up your team.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.