VGSA select teams head to Clinton for softball tournament

Published 10:00 am Friday, June 17, 2016

The Vicksburg Girls Softball Association will hit the road for a tournament in Clinton this weekend.

VGSA’s 12U, 10U and 8U select teams will play two games against traveling, tournament teams in pool play. The tournament will give experience to players who want to pursue high school ball and expose parents to the benefits of playing travel softball.

The 12U team brings versatility to its bracket, as all of its players are comfortable in all positions on the field.

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“Pitching, catching, outfield, infield, you got girls out there that can play just about any position and you can put them anywhere. They have good bats and good gloves. That’s one thing about this group of girls right here,” said John Van Norman, coach of VGSA’s 12U-select team. “You can put them at first, you can put them in left field, you can put them out catching, and they can play any position. Very talented group of girls coming up.”

Van Norman said his squad would matchup against teams that typically play every weekend. Which means he has no idea about the type of competition the team will face this weekend.

But, Van Norman and his team will stick to the strategies and tactics they know how to do best.

“You don’t really know their style, or what certain batters do or how the pitcher pitches. As coaches we can watch and help the girls out with what they may do,” Van Norman said. “You go in there kind of not sure of what you’re going up against but then again you have to stick to what you know how to do and your talents and just put it out on the field.”

One of the reasons Van Norman is excited for the tournament is so his girls could get extra experience to help them in high school. He said when players go against good talent it’ll make them better.

“They’ve worked hard and practiced hard in this heat,” Van Norman said. “They put in a lot of good, hard work and effort. I’m proud of them.”

VGSA’s 10U-select team coach Mike Foley said the tournament will be a great experience for the girls.

“Every year we try to return something to the girls basically by taking some of the girls that want to continue playing and letting them play in competitive events,” Foley said. “The goal is to go in and have fun, allow the girls to experience it and see how they do.”

Foley said that a lot of the girls they’ll see this weekend would be competition they’ll face when they reach high school.

“There are two true, recreational, all-star teams; ours and Northwest Rankin,” Foley said.

Saturday the girls will play two pool games against tournament teams before meeting Northwest Rankin in a two-out-of-three elimination series.

At this point in the players’ young softball careers, tournaments like the one in Clinton would help shape their talents and Foley said would give parents the opportunity to experience the benefits of travel softball.

“The parents get to see other kids that travel and play on the weekend. Then the parents get to make that decision of ‘my child’s strong enough, good enough and willing enough to put the work in,’” Foley said.

To combat the unknown element of their opponents, Foley and his team will have fun and enjoy the experience.

For VGSA’s 8U team, coach Adriane Freeman expects a lot out of her team this weekend after the amount of effort put forth by the team in practice.

“We work them hard in practice and they play hard during the game and that’s what we expect out of them; the best,” Freeman said.

The girls are excited to travel to Clinton and if they play to the level Freeman knows they’re capable of, she said the team would come out of the tournament looking good.

“I wish our girls good luck, I wish our Vicksburg girls in upper league good luck and I’ll see you in the finals,” Freeman said.

At this developmental stage of softball, Freeman and coach Jason Smith want the players to grasp the basic fundamentals of softball before the advance to 10U.

“Once we teach them about the bases and about shortstop and about the field and how to catch and how to bat, then we’re ready to move them on up,” Freeman said.