Improving daily |

Improving daily

Coach: Softball team's victories lie in its progress

Priska Sorensen, right, warms up with Darcy Hornstein at practice for the Steamboat Springs High School girls fast pitch softball team at the middle school baseball field on Tuesday night.
Tyler Arroyo

2006 SSHS girls fast pitch softball schedule

Sept. 2, at Middle Park Tournament (3 games), 8 a.m.

Sept. 8, at Eagle Valley Tournament, TBA

Sept. 9, at Eagle Valley Tournament, TBA

Sept. 12, Delta doubleheader, 4 p.m.

Sept. 19, Eagle Valley doubleheader, 4 p.m.

Sept. 23, at Rifle doubleheader, 11 a.m.

Oct. 3, at Palisade, 1 p.m.

Oct. 7, at Rifle Tournament (3 games), TBA

Oct. 10, Aspen, 4 p.m.

— For third-year Steamboat Springs softball coach Donna Ryan, it’s all part of a long process.

She admits her team probably won’t top the league standings this year, and it most likely will struggle with the top teams.

But that doesn’t stop her from saying she is excited about the prospect of coaching this year’s team.

“Success would be to improve in the players’ skills and knowledge of the game,” she said. “Another success would be introducing new girls into the program. I’d like to see more kids come out.”

It’s been a tough go for the Sailors softball team. Last year, they went winless in the league and won only one game. Every other team in the Western Slope League finished with a winning record.

Steamboat returns seven girls from last year’s team, including pitchers Christie Fielding and Leigh Thielen.

“We’ve got a few hardcore players that keep the team together,” Thielen said. “They’re spark plugs for the team. They keep everybody motivated.”

Along with Fielding and Thielen, the Sailors return Mataya Flaharty, Melissa Walsh, Darcy Hornstein, Patricia Henderson and Priska Sorensen.

Ryan pointed to inexperience as the reason the team struggled last year. Then, she said, she had to teach fundamentals to most of the girls. Although they didn’t put a lot of wins on the board, Ryan said the week-to-week transformations in the players’ skills gave her a different outlook on the season.

“I thought last year was a success because the kids finally knew what to do and where to go,” she said. “That was the biggest struggle with starting this team three years ago.”

In girls fast pitch softball, Ryan said a lot hinges on the pitching staff. Although Fielding and Thielen struggled last year, Ryan said they have improved a lot.

“Christie and Leigh came a long way last year,” she said. “I think the whole team has.”

Considering the teams in the league – Rifle, Delta and Eagle Valley all had more than 14 wins – Ryan said the Sailors still have a ways to go before they can compete with the elite teams.

Nevertheless, she’s happy with how the girls have progressed.

“I think that every time the girls go out there, they’re going to give each team a better game,” she said. “Their skills improve daily.”

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