BROOMFIELD — The future of softball in Colorado, and especially in the region, as well as the rest of the country is exceptionally bright.
You need look no further the wealth on talent on display at the Broomfield Community Park that is hosting the U14 version of the Boulder Independence Day tournament.
And in years past when it felt like the Centennial state's best lagged a little behind the rest of the country — especially those teams from California, Texas Georgia and Illinois — the Colorado Stars U14 entrants are going a long way towards bucking that trend.
"It is getting a little bit better every year even though we are kind of behind the eight ball a little bit," said Stars coach Jeremy Kapelke after his team's 7-4 loss to the New Jersey-based Intensity in pool play on Friday.
"We are still just a step behind."
But against a team that had yet to drop a game in the tournament, the Stars — loaded with five BoCo area players — held their own and didn't blink when the going got tough.
"For our girls just to get this experience playing against the best teams in the nation and compete; they know the talent level is there, they just have to have the confidence," said Kapelke, whose team played their first IDT last season and won two game in their initial foray. "As soon as they start believing they are that good, they are going to be able to compete with anybody in the nation."
The five area players on Kapelke's squad — four incoming freshman and one sophomore — combined to go 9-for-14 at the plate and accounted for all four runs.
Both Morgan Reeves (a sophomore to-be at Legacy) and Maddie Kuehl (an incoming freshman at Silver Creek) went 3-for-3 and Patricia Leins (Holy Family) had two hits.
"We see good teams here, but this gives us variety and we see a lot better pitchers," said Kuehl, who also started in the circle.
Kuehl for one is hoping that the experience gained from a rigorous summer schedule that has had them traveling all over the country will be beneficial when it comes to helping the Raptors, who are coming off a 19-5 season in 2016, this fall.
"I just want to play my hardest and do what I can to make the team and if that doesn't work out, I'll do JV," she said. "But all I can do is work as hard as I can."