LONGMONT — At the highest levels of club softball, it's hard for a team to consistently win if that team cannot consistently score runs.
Offensive consistency eluded the Colorado Stars 16A club through the pool play rounds at this year's Louisville Slugger Boulder Independence Day Tournament.
In their final pool play game on Friday, the Stars scored just one run despite belting out seven hits and fell 7-1 to the Illinois Sparks at Clark Centennial Park. But now that the showcase portion of the tournament is over, the Stars have a shot to improve their offense in the elimination portion that starts on Saturday.
"All the teams out here are good and it's nice to face that type of competition because it only makes us better," Stars pitcher Erin Kirby said. "It was tough today. Once we've hit a lull this week, we've just sort of stayed there. We need to learn how to get a hit and keep it going to avoid those ups and downs. We need to figure out how to stay up."
Kirby, who will be a junior at Mountain Vista High School in the fall, pitched a complete game against the Sparks on Friday. She allowed just four earned runs as the Stars were bitten by five errors on top of the eight hits the Sparks lineup put together at the plate.
Fighting to overcome a 3-0 lead after the second inning, the Stars scored their lone run in the third when Kirby singled to drive in teammate Samantha Conradie, who plays at Legacy High School during the prep season.
The only Stars player to put together a multi-hit game, Kirby collected three of the Stars' seven singles. Conradie, Jennie Richter, Megan Blood-Smith and Marlee Helba had the others.
"We just need to drive the ball a little better," Stars head coach Mike Eatmon said. "That was the difference. We need to come to an understanding that the name of the game is hitting. That's been an issue lately. We need to have a more consistent approach at the plate and we need to continue to work hard on driving the middle of the ball."
The Stars, who just returned from a tournament in Tennesee on Sunday and opened the Boulder IDT on Tuesday, finished pool play with a 1-5 record. All the teams will be seeded and single-elimination bracket play will begin on Saturday.
"Our goal is to play as a team," Eatmon said. "The strength of the pack is in the pack. We don't have a lot of individual players on this team. We're an unselfish group and these girls play for each other. We'll continue to do that."
Illinois Sparks 7, Colorado Stars 1
At Clark Centennial Park
Sparks 120 120 1 — 7 8 2
Stars 001 000 0 — 1 7 5
W — Kahoe.
Sparks hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Agato 4-1-1-0, Swanson 4-1-1-1, Wood 4-1-0-0, Daly 3-0-1-2, Woulfe 3-0-2-1, Swetz 3-0-0-0, Kahoe 4-0-0-0, Zeigler 3-1-0-0, Nikisich 1-1-0-0, Travis 2-1-1-0, Newtoff 2-1-2-2. Totals 32-7-8-6. 2B — Daly. SB —Swanson, Nikisich, Zeigler, Wood, Woulfe.
Stars hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Conradie 3-1-1-0, Richter 2-0-1-0, Kirby 3-0-3-1, Colwell 3-0-0-0, Eatmon 3-0-0-0, Blood-Smith 3-0-1-0, Parrish 3-0-0-0, Hebda 3-0-1-0, Charters 3-0-0-0. Totals 26-1-7-1.
Sparks pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Kahoe 2.2-5-1-1-1-0, Hanlon 4.1-2-0-0-0-3.
Stars pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Kirby 7-8-7-4-3-0.