Softball: Keil shining as leader for Colorado Stars Gold

Michael Wilson/
Colorado Stars Gold shortstop Shelby Keil (Silver Creek High School) makes a throw to first base during the Stars’ game against Oklahoma Athletics Gold during pool play of the Independence Day Tournament at the East Mapleton Ball Fields in Boulder on Thursday.

BOULDER — Last Fourth of July, recent Silver Creek High graduate Shelby Keil was exhausting herself with worry while trying to impress the scouts in attendance at the Independence Day Tournament.

The standout shortstop eased her mind when she signed to play at the University of South Dakota last November. With that life decision out of the way, Keil can now relax and make the most of her final trip through the Independence Day Tournament gauntlet.

“It’s nice not to worry about what you’re doing twenty-four-seven and trying to get recruited,” Keil said. “I’m just playing relaxed. Definitely last year I was a lot more stressed and I didn’t really appreciate the fact that this tournament is that big. We’re very blessed to have this quality of players come here and compete against us.”

Playing for Colorado Stars Gold, Keil is a big run-producer in the middle of the lineup. But Stars Gold head coach Dan Burns, whose team lost both pool play games Thursday, said Keil’s most unique contribution to his ball club is with the leather not the lance.

When Keil is relaxed, like she was on Thursday, she’s silky smooth.

Playing shortstop for both games, Keil made 10 of the Stars’ 30 outs on eight assists and two put-outs.

“Shelby makes some unbelievable plays,” Burns said. “She’s been doing it all year. She drives in runs for us but you’ve gotta have a shortstop that makes plays. She’s got a quick release, she charges the ball and throws off balance. Those are hard plays for these girls to make and this is the top level of club softball. We’re competing against really good girls so we’re happy to have Shelby on our side.”

Not only does the IDT feature the nation’s toughest players in front of the largest collection of college coaches but it also draws more college coaches than any other showcase.

“We’re pretty young this year so I’m really excited about how we’re playing,” Keil said. “We have a lot of sophomores and one girl who was a freshman this year, and we only have four or five seniors. I’m really proud of how they’ve made the adjustment.”

For Keil, she recalled the hardest part of playing at the IDT to not look around at what coaches are watching while you play. Sharing her experience to help the younger players adjust to the nation’s highest level of club softball has become part of her role on the team.

“We tell the girls that the recruiting process is stressful but the more fun you have, the better,” Keil said. “They don’t show that they’re nervous but I’ve been there so I know that they’re a little nervous about it. The do a pretty good job of focusing on the game themselves rather than getting recruited.”

In its third pool play game, Colorado Stars Gold lost 9-3 to Oklahoma Athletics Gold after losing a 2-0 lead during a six-run bottom of the first inning. Despite a three-run home run from Tianna Harper, the Stars lost pool play game four 12-6 to the SoCal Sliderz.

Harper, who will be a junior at Mead High School next year, said Keil and recent Chatfield High graduate Carlie Sexton have helped her and the other younger players fight off their IDT jitters. But it’s still been a struggle through the first two days.

“We always have to remember this is just pool play and the big tournament starts inside the bracket,” Harper said. “We just have to come back out tomorrow and Saturday and rally play as we should be.”

Colorado Stars Gold will enter day three of pool play with a 1-2-1 record in Pool J after going 1-0-1 on Wednesday. They play the Virginia Shamrocks at 8 a.m. and the Minnesota Irish at 9:45 a.m.

Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi

Pool play game three

Oklahoma Athletics Gold 9, Colorado Stars Gold 3

At East Mapleton Ball Fields

Colorado Stars Gold 201 00 — 3 6 4

Oklahoma Athletics Gold 610 02 — 9 7 1

W — Halbert. L — Lindstrom.

Colorado Stars Gold hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kilcrease 3-0-0-0, Good 3-1-1-0, Paulson 3-0-1-1, Mintz 0-1-0-0, Keil 2-0-0-0, T. Harper 2-0-2-1, Ortega 2-0-0-0, Biaggi 2-0-0-0, Williams 2-0-0-0, Reichmuth 2-1-2-0. Totals 21-3-6-2. 2B — T. Harper. SB — Good.

Oklahoma Athletics Gold hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Brandenburg 3-1-1-0, Jackson 2-2-1-0, Joyner 3-1-1-1, Brown 3-2-1-2, White 3-2-3-1, Scott 3-1-0-0, Elam 2-0-0-1, Winters 2-0-0-0, Fischer 2-0-0-0. 2B — White 2, Joyner. SB — Jackson.

Colorado Stars Gold pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Lindstrom 4-7-9-5-1-1.

Oklahoma Athletics Gold pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Halbert 4-5-3-1-2-2, Miles 1-1-0-0-0-0.

Pool play game four

SoCal Sliderz 12, Colorado Stars Gold 6

At East Mapleton Ball Fields

SoCal Sliderz 322 401 — 12 15 2

Colorado Stars Gold 104 100 — 6 5 3

W — Thayer. L — Mintz.

SoCal Sliderz hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Romero 4-1-2-2, Canseco 3-2-1-0, Ellis 1-0-0-0, Kister 4-1-1-1, Lotito 4-3-3-3, Cribbs 3-1-2-1, E. Mendoza 3-1-3-3, T. Mendoza 4-0-0-0, Beckmann 3-1-2-1, Orozco 3-0-0-0, Troxell 3-2-1-0. Totals 35-12-15-11. 2B — Romero 2, Cribbs, Canseco, Beckmann. SB — Canseco.

Colorado Stars Gold hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kilcrease 2-1-1-0, Good 2-2-2-1, Sexton 3-1-0-0, Paulson 2-0-0-0, Keil 3-0-1-1, T. Harper 3-1-1-3, Ortega 3-0-0-0, Biaggi 0-0-0-0, L. Harper 3-0-0-0, Reichmuth 3-1-0-0. Totals 24-6-5-5. 2B — Good. HR — T. Harper (2 on in 3rd).

SoCal Sliderz pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Thayer 2-2-1-1-2-1, Beckmann 2-3-5-5-3-1, Pai 2-0-0-0-1-1.

Colorado Stars Gold pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Mintz 6-15-12-6-0-4.