Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Taylor Nielsen (24), of the Colorado Stars Sakamoto 18U softball team, gets a high-five from Mel Rahrich after scoring a run Saturday against the SoCal Athletics.

Perseverance played a key role in the Colorado Stars Sakamoto 18U softball team getting back some games at this year’s Louisville Slugger Boulder Independence Day Tournament.

And while the bats went silent at the wrong time in a second round game Saturday at the Mapleton softball fields, there was no one saying the Stars didn’t battle until the end in going 4-4 overall at the prestigious showcase event.

They extended their tournament with a 6-4 win over the So Cal Athletics to begin bracket competition, and although they had enough baserunners to beat the Rhode Island Thunder, they couldn’t get the runs needed in a 4-1 loss.

“The last five games of this tournament, we battled pretty well. You wish you can pick up another win here or there, and the goal is always to make it to Sunday,” said head coach Scott Sakamoto, whose team will continue its season in the California Champions Cup in just about one week. “I do think we have the talent to hang with a lot of teams.”

“We started off slow, but we just kind of started to have more fun and started winning games together. This last game, it just came down to not getting the timely hits,” added Taylor Nielsen, a Longmont player who saw action in both Saturday games. “We’re going to work hard and do better in California.”

The same grit that led the team to a 3-3 pool play record after starting with three straight losses also helped attain victory in Saturday’s first bracket game.

Riley Craig’s home run in the sixth inning tied the game at 3-3, and then facing another one-run deficit in their final at-bat the Stars produced three runs in the seventh. Abbey Montoya, a Douglas County junior to-be, had the big hit in the frame with a two-out line drive that skimmed off the glove of the A’s shortstop and scored two runs.

Brighton High graduate Melissa Rahrich, who got the complete-game victory, started a huge double play in the bottom of the seventh to eliminate a rally.

It didn’t seem like a big deal in the second game when, in the midst of a scoreless tie in the third inning, Frederick’s Paris Woods was stranded at third base after leading off the inning with a single. That was, however, just the first of three straight innings of a close game in which the Stars left potential runs on base.

In the fifth, Gabby Loya walked with the bases loaded and one out to score Rahrich as the team’s only run, but they left the bases loaded in that inning and then wasted a leadoff double by Katelyn Eldredge in the sixth frame.

“We were evenly matched and we made just made a couple of mistakes, but they got the timely hits when we didn’t,” Sakamoto said.

The other 18U Stars team, coached by Dan Burns, also went 3-3 in pool play but could not pull off an upset in their first round bracket matchup against the Birmingham (Ala.) Thunderbolts. The Bolts, a team comprised of mostly Division I-bound players, pulled away to a 9-2 victory.

Adam Dunivan: or

Colorado Stars Sakamoto 6, SoCal Athletics 4

At Mapleton Softball Fields

CO Stars 001 011 3 — 6 12 2

SoCal A’s 000 031 0 — 4 11 0

W — Rahrich.

Stars hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Egan 3-0-1-0, Nielsen 1-0-0-0, Eldredge 2-2-1-0, Rahrich 4-2-3-0, Huser 3-0-1-1, Richter 4-1-2-2, Craig 3-1-2-1, Montoya 3-0-1-2, Jarecki 2-0-1-0, Hughes 2-0-0-0, Woods 2-0-0-0, Foster 0-0-0-0. Totals 29-6-12-6.

Stars pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Rahrich 7-11-4-3-1-5.

Rhode Island Thunder 4, Colorado Stars Sakamoto 1

At Mapleton Softball Fields

RI Thunder 000 202 0 — 4 10 2

CO Stars 000 100 0 — 1 4 2

L — Huser.

Stars hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Eldredge 4-0-1-0, Montoya 2-0-0-0, Rahrich 3-1-1-0, Huser 3-0-0-0, Richter 3-0-0-0, Craig 3-0-1-0, Loya 2-0-0-1, Woods 2-0-1-0, Egan 1-0-0-0, Nielsen 2-0-0-0, Jarecki 1-0-0-0. Totals 26-1-4-1.

Stars pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Huser 7-10-4-2-0-3.