BOULDER — The annual Boulder Independence Day Tournament draws a number of the nation's top softball clubs to the Boulder area each summer and this summer's edition kicked off on Wednesday.

Over the years, the Boulder IDT has evolved to become not just an ultra-competitive tournament but also one of the top recruiting showcases for high school prospects of all ages. For local Colorado Stars players like Parker Dannenberg and Lainey Hughes, who will both be seniors next season and remain uncommitted and unsigned, the Boulder IDT marks one of the premier opportunities of their prep careers to demonstrate their skills in front of over 300 college coaches and scouts.

Due to their ages and the upperclassman recruiting window they have reached, this summer's Boulder IDT will be the most critical yet for Dannenberg and Hughes.

"I walk around and I see college coaches all the time," Hughes said. "I usually don't get too nervous unless there's a coach that I've emailed and I know that they are there to watch me. I haven't really narrowed my search down much so I'm just trying to hit and field as well as I can and the rest should take care of itself."

Hughes will be a senior at Broomfield next season and Dannenberg will enter her final season at Legacy in the fall. On Wednesday, both had their moments during what turned out to be a decent, but not great, first day for the Colorado Stars Gold club in the opening rounds of Pool B play in the top-level 18U Boulder bracket at the Gerald Stazio Softball Fields.


Stars Gold also features a pair of 2017 Broomfield graduates in University of Arizona-bound Taylor Gilmore and University of Arkansas-bound Linnie Malkin. The Stars kicked off the tournament with an 8-1 win over Gators Gold from Florida before falling 9-5 to Explosion BD from California despite leading 3-0 in the early innings.

"We played two of the better teams out of Florida and California and I'm happy with the way we played," Stars Gold head coach and tournament director Dan Burns said. "These are the teams we compete against and both Parker and Lainey played well. Parker had a hit here in the last inning against the Explosion and Lainey has played great defense all day long. They all played well."

As juniors during last fall's prep season, Hughes and Dannenberg batted .315 and .333, respectively, and both finished the season with double-digit RBIs and runs scored. Both coming off solid prep seasons and with their recruitments heating up, neither said they felt any added pressure to perform well at the Boulder IDT.

Both Hughes and Dannenberg both have committed themselves to the idea that all they can control is their effort and attitude.

"Overall, I feel like we did really well," Dannenberg said. "The second game wasn't as good as the first, but we're playing great teams and we all came together as a team and didn't let the little things that didn't go our way get to us. It's a great opportunity to get looked at and I don't feel like there's a lot of extra pressure. It's just a good chance to show what you can do."

Stars Gold will continue pool play at 3 p.m. on Thursday against Corona Angels Kim.

Brad Cochi: or