Angels in the outfield
Local softball team scores big at Field of Dreams AFA tournament
During last week's 18 and under national softball tournament at the Field of Dreams complex, angels showed up and decided to play.
Angels with Attitude, a team comprised mostly of players from Basehor and Bonner Springs, advanced past the group stage, only to fall after three games in the round-robin stage. Sophomore Kristal Holland said despite falling short of the title, the team achieved what it had set out to do.
"We played our hardest, and that's what our coaches told us they wanted at the beginning of the tournament," she said.
The team, which was actually an under-16 squad with some girls who could play on an under-14 team, felt that the tougher competition would prove beneficial when the high school season began next spring.
"We play up during the high school season, so we thought this would be a good way to get us ready for that during our summer season," Holland said.
Coach Jeff Theno said the team played well most of the time, but things did not go so well at the plate.
"Our defense was strong, our pitching was strong, it was just our hitting was not quite what I had hoped it would be," he said.
Before the tournament began, individual competitions in skills such as hitting, pitching, fielding and base running took place.
Holland won the home run derby while finishing runner-up in the pitching velocity contest.
Her teammate Sara Cantu placed runner-up to Holland in the home run derby.
"It was pretty nice to win that because I was the youngest girl out there," Holland said.
She also said that playing with five of her teammates from Basehor-Linwood High School should be beneficial when the spring rolls around.
"It's going to help us a lot to play with each other because we get used to each other on the field and we can talk with each other easier," she said.
As for playing with girls from other schools, she said "it was nice to make some new friends out on the field."
Theno said rivalries never crept onto the field.
"We had a good camaraderie," he said. "All the girls became pretty good friends over the course of the season."
Besides the national tournament, the team competed in tournaments in Johnson County and at Hidden Valley.
However, the team, which has some girls who have played together for nine years, decided that the national tournament would be its last together.
The team is going to break up after this summer and members will go to other teams.
Despite not winning the championship, Holland said she felt the tournament was a success.
"I thought it went pretty well, especially since we were one of the youngest teams there," she said. "I think we did very well considering we had three or four girls that could have been playing in the 14 and under group. So for them to go 3-3 and be playing up so much, I thought that was pretty good."