Diamonds in the rough

Framed nicely by the links in the fence, Lillee Rupe gets ready to hit during the state tournament in Laramie July 10-12.

The Douglas Diamonds may be young, but they’re tough.

Although the team plays in the 12U division, only four members of the 19-girl team are actually of that age. The rest of the team is made up of girls who should be playing in 10U, with girls as young as 8 years old, due to a low number of enrollments this year.

“This year we only ended up with 19 girls registered,” Diamonds head coach Cassi Cole said. “That’s not enough to split up into two teams, so that means for the 8-year-olds that I have they have to move up and play in the 12U.”

The youth means the team is at a disadvantage when they go up against teams from around the state filled with girls with years of experience on most of the team. That would be a challenge any season, but is especially so with the shortened practice time before the season began due to COVID-19.

The girls have fought against these roadblocks every step of the way on their way to a 4-11 record currently, but Cole says overall she is satisfied with how the season has played out.

“It has gone really well. The girls have been working super hard the entire time and have learned a lot. From what I’ve seen, all of them have gained at least one or two new skills that they didn’t have coming into this year

“It’s honestly kind of worked in our favor having the young girls to play up around girls that have been playing for three or four more years than them. The older girls really help the younger girls and it kind of speeds up the process because they can see it versus me trying to explain it.”

The struggles can sometimes get to the girls and lower morale, but they always bounce back and have maintained a good attitude throughout the season. Cole says she can hardly believe how hard they have all worked and improved.

“There have been a couple times where they have been pretty discouraged, but I just had to remind them that we are a new team and we’re still learning and it takes time. They come to the next practice and work even harder and just keep improving. I didn’t know a team could improve this much in such a short season.

“Our hitting has come a very long way. At the beginning of the season I couldn’t get half of them to swing the bat, and now every girl has gotten a hit off of live pitching. That is a huge accomplishment for our 8 year olds who were terrified to even stand in the box. It’s been amazing seeing how far these young girls have come, they have really blown me away.”

Normally the season would be over by now, with the state tournament in Laramie July 10-12 being the last games of the season, but because of the coronavirus, four nights of double-headers have been added to the schedule.

The Diamonds most recent games were on July 16, and they will have games each Thursday for the next three weeks, with the season’s finale in Casper Aug. 6.

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