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Unfortunately, I have no deep, dark secret, like having a third eye. Well, at least not to my knowledge! But I do have a passion, well, more of an obsession. I love to play softball. Yes, one could tell that by looking at some of my t-shirts. But one could not tell how involved I actually am. No one could tell, by looking in my eyes, that I have traveled to Chicago and North Carolina to play in the Softball World Series. Nor could one tell, by looking at my hands, that the majority of my summer consists of softball or that I play all year long. Practicing on the weekdays, and traveling to different tournaments on almost every week end, in the Summer. I love not having a weekend, during the Summer to just go to the beach or hang out with friends. I love how my Summer is consumed by softball.
I play softball all year round, summer, autumn, winter, and spring. The biggest time for softball is during the summer, not the spring. Spring, along with winter and fall, is a warm-up for Summer. I belong to a traveling Summer softball team. My team, and most other Summer traveling teams, consist of players from all different schools. My team has players from Beaumont, Harvey, Richmond Heights, North, South, Brush, Perry, Chagrin Falls, and obviously West Geauga. The Summer is for the best of the best. There are teams all over the country. We have played teams from Nevada, Florida, Virginia, Illinois, and even Alaska in different tournaments. Every weekend, during the Summer, we play in a different tournament. Some tournaments are close to home and some require us to stay in a hotel for a few nights. A Summer traveling team is a highly competitive team.
Each tournaments is run basically the same way. They are held on the weekends, usually Friday through Sunday. We usually play three to five games a day. Fridays and Saturdays are called pool play. This means the games played on those days are to place teams in the actual tournament, which starts on Sundays. For example, if one team won all 5 games and they had the best record then they were seeded, or ranked, number one. That number one seeded team would then play the team with the worst record, or the team seeded last. Then the team with the second highest record would play the team with the second worst record, and so on. Sunday is the day where winners are crowned and losers get nothing! The format on Sunday is simple, lose and go home. Most tournaments a team plays a two game elimination on Sundays. Meaning, if a team loses the first game, they keep playing. But if they happen to lose another they are sent home. Friday and Saturday games don’t really matter in the overall tournament. A team could lose all their games on Friday and Saturday, be ranked last, and still win the whole tournament on Sunday. That is the basic format for a tournament.
Teams from all over the country compete in these tournaments, from Alaska to Hawaii. Any where from ten to eighty teams can compete in a tournament in just one age bracket. There are usually six different age brackets in each tournament 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18 year olds. The number of age brackets depends on the size of the tournament. Any team can compete, but the entrance fee alone is usually over 300 dollars. For the bigger tournaments they can cost up to 1,000 dollars. Also factor in other expenses like jerseys, equipment, hotel rooms, if needed, for twelve girls, and not to mention feeding them! Summer softball can be pricey, so fund raising is a enormous part of the game.
Traveling softball has taken me many places over the years. We have gone near, like Eastlake, and far, like North Carolina, which we played for a week long tournament. We have also gone to Chicago, another week long, New York, Columbus, Toledo, Akron, Brookpark, and many other places. My personal favorite was Chicago because we played in a town less than ten minutes away from Downtown Chicago. Just imagine twelve sixteen year old girls walking around Chicago with just one male Coach!
School softball, played in the spring, is nothing compared to summer softball. It is far less competitive than summer leagues. Most teams in summer have pitchers pitching at least sixty-five miles per hour. Where as in Spring , the highest is usually forty-five to fifty miles per hour. For some girls, Spring softball is just some thing they do to pass the time, but in Summer it is only the dedicated that stick around. Teams are just on a higher level in Summer than in Spring, because most teams hand pick the best from each school to make a Summer traveling team. In just one day, we could play up to five games, during the summer! In spring, we are lucky if we can play five games in two weeks. I mentioned this before, Spring is just a warm up for Summer.
The experiences I have had playing Summer softball were ones I would never give up. I feel so fortunate to have these experiences that, in many ways, have changed my life. My dream is to receive a scholarship and play a sport in college. Summer softball has certainly moved me closer to achieving that dream. One college has already asked me to tour their campus, which was the most exciting moment in my life. I just wish I have many more moments like that. Most people could never fathom my involvement in and love I have for the game of fast pitch softball by just looking in my eyes.
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