This year the Southern Plains All-Star season looks a little different as all SP teams have elected to play in open tournaments rather than in the usual Babe Ruth Tournament Trail. The youngest softball players for Southern Plains, the 10U group, ended up in a very big tournament way over in Hutchinson, Kansas over the weekend where they learned that 10-year-olds really can pitch very well and that there are certainly a few levels of improvement to get to. They went 0-4 in the tournament, but by the time they were done on Sunday they had learned how to compete against tough competition, how to play like a team unit, and how much work it takes to get to the next level.
Southern Plains played four games in hot and humid weather taking on teams from the Hutchison, Wichita, and Pratt areas. They would lose in scores of 6-2, 11-1, 11-0, and 6-1. In a nutshell, the offense for Southern Plains struggled as their opponents had pitching that forced either a hit or strike out. Not many walks were there which meant the pitching accuracy was strong.
Southern Plains started the Hutchinson tournament against the Titans losing 6-2. It took the SP youngsters four innings to figure out the pitching as the first nine batters went down by either strike out or put out. Finally, Kalie Ball and Mia Crow pulled walks to start the fourth inning. Idaly Rodriguez, in the one-hole, would hit a nice single driving in Ball and Crow.
Kennedy Gyurman started against the Titans in the circle and did a good job in the first inning holding off any chance of a run. However, in the top of the second inning a semi-flood ensued as all six runs for the Titans came in that inning. Gyurman would come back and be strong holding off hitters in the third and fourth innings but the second inning damage was too much to overcome and Southern Plains lost 6-2.
The heat really bothered the young Southern Plains group as they weren’t used to the humidity in eastern Kansas. But they buckled down and took on a really good Clay Center team losing 11-1. Southern Plains struck first as lead off batter Peyton Eder got on base after pulling a walk. The next batter grounded out. Bailey Sierra moved Eder on a nice single and Rodriguez brought her home with another single.
However, the Clay Center group controlled Southern Plains’ pitching scoring six runs in the first inning and five runs in the second inning to eventually 10-run the SP girls.
On Sunday morning Southern Plains played in their final pool game against the Wichita Cyclones losing 13-1. In that contest Jordynn Turcotte was in the circle getting some important pitching experience against a tough hitting team.
The SP youngsters got their only run again from Eder, the lead-off batter, after she pulled a walk to get on base in the top of the first inning. Rodriguez again came through with an RBI single after the #2 and #3 batters went down swinging. In the second inning SP again got two aboard when Turcotte got on with a single and Kinsley Williams pulled a walk with one out. However, the next two batters struck out and Wichita quickly put an end to the game via the ten-run mercy rule.
By the fourth and final game Southern Plains made some great strides in the quality of their at-bat attempts as they played the Titans again in the first round of the tournament. Although they lost again 6-1 the girls did a better job of getting the bat on the ball. According to coach Randy Williams, “They improved in hitting the most from day one to day two. Almost every single player got the bat on the ball the last game. It was really awesome to see. They were all so excited.”
Eder was the only run once again as the feisty lead-off batter got on with yet another walk. Again, Sierra and Rodriguez worked Eder around the bases for a run before the third out. But that was all SP could do as they only got one on base in the second when Williams pulled a walk; and one in the third on a Mia Crow earned walk. Otherwise the Titan defense made some good plays keeping Southern Plains off the scoreboard for most of the contest.
Next week the Southern Plains 10U softball team will compete in a tournament much closer to home in Lamar.