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Softball: Boulder Stars 16U team aims to cap summer with state title

Brad Cochi
Boulder High softball player Raina Galbiati hopes to help continue the standout summer for the Boulder Stars 16U team at the Triple Crown state tournament this weekend.

BOULDER — Softball teams are constantly searching for ways to peak at the right time of the summer, and the Boulder Stars 16U team appears to have found a solution to one of sports’ toughest challenges.

With the Triple Crown State Championships coming up June 21-23, the club feels like they’re firing on all cylinders heading into the summer’s finale.

“I’ve always felt like this team could really do something great and we’ve proved it that last three weekends by getting first twice and getting third at the tournament up in Steamboat,” Stars player Marisa Yost said. “We all feel like we can succeed and be coached well on this team. We’re finally clicking together and learning from each other.” 

Yost, who will be a senior at Silver Creek next year, is one of several new additions to a team that once included only players from Boulder. Though many of the Boulder Stars have played together since the 14-under level, the addition of girls from surrounding areas has been a seamless one.

With the chemistry they now have, Yost said, the Boulder Stars players are all settling into their roles and stringing hits together to go with their good pitching.

Over the weekend, the Stars took third at the prestigious Mountain Magic tournament in Steamboat Springs. During the tournament, leading pitcher Raina Galbiati went 4-0 on the mound and Yost batted .609 with 11 RBIs.

Showing the balance that has been their trademark, five Stars players batted over .400 and nine players drove in four or more runs.

“We don’t have anybody that’s a superstar bound for USC or Arizona,” head coach Pete Sprenkle said. “We have a bunch of good to very good players. They really get along well, they work together well and they have a lot of heart and desire.” Of their 41 wins this season, Sprenkle said he’d guess the Boulder Stars (41-25-4) had trailed in at least 15.

For catcher and outfielder Rachel Perley, their never-say-die attitude is one of her favorite things about playing for the 16-under team.

“We’re a team that plays with a lot of heart and a lot of spirit and a lot of love for the game so it’s fun to be on the field,” said Perley, who plays for Fairview. “Even if we’re down by seven runs, we’re not playing like we’re losing. We’re still playing like we’re right in that game and you never know if we’re going to come back or not.”This type of success is a good sign for a program dedicated to improving the quality of prep softball in Boulder County.

“The whole focus has been to try to get Boulder kids that are going to play high school in Boulder to play on a team of this level so they’ll be better high school players,” Sprenkle said. “If you follow Boulder preps and the Front Range League, you’ll notice the bottom three are Boulder, Monarch and Fairview. That’s not a coincidence because not enough of those kids, especially in Boulder, were playing summer ball.”

The Boulder Stars were formed in the spring of 2007 as a 10-under C-team of all Boulder players in the Boulder Valley Softball Association. In the fall of 2008, they won the Fall Middle School League championship.

The Stars won the 12-under Indian Peaks Girls Softball Association championship a year later and the 16-under IPGSA competitive division in 2010. Last summer, they won the American Softball Association Class B 16-18-under state championship.

In 2012, Boulder High coach Susan Guegan started her own program called Boulder Pride, which now has three teams, and Monarch has its own program called the Coyotes. When that happened, the Boulder Stars expanded their roster to include players from Broomfield, Longmont, and other cities in the Boulder area including schools like Wheat Ridge and Mountain Range.

Sprenkle said the Boulder Stars use literature on sports psychology and Google discussion groups to promote team unity. Each player has also added sticky notes marked with personal, intangible contributions to a team bat they carry with them until season’s end.The Boulder Stars have played over 100 games at the A level this season. Their last few at the state tournament will be the most important.

“There’s a lot of good teams in it but we’re confident we can beat anyone who steps onto the field with us,” Galbiati said.

The Stars’ 16U team opens play in the Triple Crown state tournament on Saturday morning at the Hyland Hills softball fields in Westminster. The Stars’ 18U team, which features recent Silver Creek graduates Macy Child and Ashley Beavers, opens tournament play Friday afternoon at The Ballpark at Erie.

Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi