Archive for Thursday, June 30, 2005

Softball vacation

Summer sport leaves little time for Lansing athletes to relax

June 30, 2005

— Morgan Chiles doesn't get to have a summer vacation this year.

Neither does Amanda Darrow.

No, they aren't spending hours in the classroom at Lansing High School this summer or dealing with heavy doses of homework. Instead, they're taking a full schedule of softball - five days a week - with the Leavenworth Twisters.

"Mmmm : softball. That's about it," Darrow said of her summer plans.

What? No trip out of town? No cross-country flights or trips to the beach? Really, no vacation at all?

"Oh! We're going to Omaha for a tournament," Chiles offered, recalling the team's recently scheduled trip to Nebraska for the "Tune up to Nationals" tournament July 15-17.

Even when they're on vacation, they're still busy playing ball. But that's just a way of life for high school athletes in the summertime. Chiles and Darrow are no exception.

SOFTBALL IS LIFE

Chiles and Darrow are best friends, and that's a plus because they see each other a lot. Whether it's volleyball, basketball or softball season at LHS, they play together and practice together all year round.

Summer softball hasn't given them a break from each other's company, either.

They've played softball together since they were 10 years old when they were in a competitive league for former LHS softball coach Rhonda Lang. The girls took a break from each other last summer when Chiles played for the Wild Things and Darrow competed with the Tonganoxie Braves.

They reunited this year with the Twisters and have maintained a rigorous softball regimen since late May.

Wednesday nights they play doubleheaders in the Olathe Premier League at the Olathe Girls' Softball Complex. Thursdays are reserved for practice. Then Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for tournaments.

"There's a lot of driving, but as long as we get to play, it's fine," Darrow said.

They don't have a single off-weekend. The Twisters will play nine tournaments throughout the summer, concluding with the United States Fastpitch Assn. Western Nationals Aug. 3-7 at Basehor Field of Dreams.

"It leaves no time for work," Darrow said with a sound of satisfaction in her voice.

Chiles is quick to argue that point, however.

"I umpire," she said, explaining how she fills her spare time on Mondays and Tuesdays.

SUCCESSFUL SUMMER

The time that Chiles and Darrow have spent on the softball field this summer already has paid off. The Twisters have played in four tournaments so far. One was washed out midway through because of thunderstorms, but the Twisters won two of the other three. They won the Hawaiian Hitfest June 3-5 at Field of Dreams and the Father Knows Best Tournament June 17-19 in Olathe. They were eliminated in bracket play Sunday at Simple Simon's Summer Smash at Basehor Field of Dreams.

The strong start to the summer season already has given Chiles and Darrow their most successful summer on the diamond.

Last year we did OK (with our separate teams), but we didn't do as good as we are now," Chiles said. "We never really played together, and we are now."

Chiles and Darrow will try to keep their hot streak going this weekend when they begin play in the Heartland Firecracker Tournament on Friday at Field of Dreams. The tournament will run through Monday with a six-game guarantee.

FUTURE IN THE SPORT

Chiles and Darrow are expected to play a key role in the future for Lansing High softball, so their improvement this summer is imperative. Both started on the varsity squad as freshmen, along with classmate Jasmine Holland. A hand injury sustained during the season has sidelined Holland for most of the summer, but a healthy Chiles and Darrow have been going non-stop.

They'll just be sophomores this year, but they are expected to be impact players on a team that will return another talented senior class.

"I think we're going to have to step up a lot next year," Chiles said. "So this summer is pretty much just about getting better."

Both girls have dreams of playing softball beyond high school, too.

"That's what we're striving for," Darrow said. "We want to get scholarships and play for a college."

Still, both girls agreed that college is a long way off so neither is worrying much about it right now. Besides, they don't have much room left in their busy schedules to think about college yet.

"I've thought about it a little bit," Chiles said, "but not to the point where I'm looking to where I'm going. It's still way too early."

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