Three Rivers Little League Junior All-Stars capture state title banners
A week after winning the District 1 tournament title, the Three Rivers Little League junior baseball and softball teams capped off their seasons by winning the Colorado State All Star Championship tournament.
Three Rivers Little League is composed of roughly 400 players ranging from Vail to Glenwood to Aspen and the surrounding areas.
The Three Rivers 14-year-old baseball team played close to home this past weekend at El Jebel’s Crawford Field hosting Academy Little League. The junior baseball team used the hometown crowd to their advantage in two dominating performances to sweep Academy Little League in a best of three series and capture the state title.
Starting pitcher Cole Fenton led the way in the first game for the All Stars as he pitched four perfect innings with six strikeouts, no walks and no men left on. Fenton’s performance early on in the game led to a 19-0 victory.
In game 2, Taylor Hays got the start and led the team to their state banner over Academy Little League by a score of 12-2. Hays pitched for six innings while allowing only one hit and garnering six strikeouts.
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“It was great to have two great Little League teams come together and face off. All respect to Academy Little League; it’s tough to travel all this way and play baseball. We just outmatched them, our defense was awesome, and we had some spectacular pitching performances,” said Steve Smart, head coach of the all-star baseball team.
The Three Rivers 14-year-old all-star softball team was forced to fight for its state championship in Denver without a home field advantage.
The all-star team had no trouble in its first, best-out-of-three matchup against Arapahoe Little League, whom they beat 17-2 in only four innings. In those four innings, Phedre Kempton pitched all four innings and contributed eight strikeouts to the game’s 12 total outs.
The following day, the softball team had its eyes set on the title but had to brave the scorching Front Range, where temperatures on Sunday neared triple digits during game time. With no promise of an afternoon thunderstorm, the all-stars instead persevered through a high scoring, hot and heated four-hour, seven-minute battle.
Both Lia Nowicki and Phedre Kempton pitched to help push the team past Arapahoe Little League once and for all by a score of 24-18.
The girl’s endurance in that game resulted with them posing with the state title banner in front of their family and friends, their faces flushed from the heat but smiling while sticking up a No. 1 to signify they are the best in the state.
“In the end it was a total team effort. Everyone did their job off the bench. All the girls that came into hit either had productive outs or got hits. We put in a lot of work, especially the last month, where we practiced five times a week in preparation for the district and state tournaments,” said Matt Kreutzer, the head coach of the all-star softball team.
Usually, both of these teams would now have the opportunity to advance to the regional tournament in order to try to earn their spot in the Little League Junior World Series at the end of every summer. But Little League Baseball and Softball decided back in May to narrow down its usual tournament to include only the 12U division due to COVID-19 precautions, thereby nixing the junior division that the Three Rivers All-Star champions compete in, meaning for the newly reigned state champions, their seasons end here.
“It’s definitely more bitter than sweet. I think the girls were ready for the next part and more competition. The girls did so well this past weekend, and it would have been nice to see competition from other states for sure,” said Kreutzer.