Macy Weeks said making any national softball tournament is tough.
But the players around here make it seem easy.
At least nine current high school softball players or recent graduates will compete later this month in various national softball tournaments on different sides of the country.
Weeks, a left fielder for Northwest Whitfield’s Georgia High School Association Class 4A state championship team last fall, is on the Tennessee Fury 18 Gold squad out of Chattanooga. She said most of the players are either from South Georgia or Alabama. The team will compete in the Amateur Softball Association’s 18-and-under gold division tournament in Clearwater, Fla., starting today with the opening ceremonies.
She isn’t the only local player in the same tournament.
In fact, she isn’t even the only Lady Bruin.
Northwest graduate Emily Boyd is on the Tennessee Fury ‘95 team, which also will compete in the ASA’s 18-gold division tournament. Bayli Cruse, who will be a senior for the Lady Bruins and hit the walkoff home run to win the Class 4A state title last October, is on Boyd’s team.
Boyd called the ASA “the premiere softball association to play in.” There’s an 18-A division and an 18-gold division. The 18-A division allows college players, Boyd said, while the 18-gold division doesn’t. Still, Boyd, who will play softball at Ole Miss after earning a full-ride athletic scholarship, believes there are tons of future college players like herself in the gold division.
“In all other divisions except for 18-gold, there are state qualifiers and each state has a different number of berths,” she said. “It’s mainly all Division-I players who play in the gold division.”
The 18-gold division has regional and territorial tournaments throughout the spring and summer for teams to qualify into the national tournament. Different regions and territories account for a different number of berths — dependent on past success — and the maximum number of teams in the tournament is 76. Qualifying tournaments were held through the first full weekend in July.
Dalton’s Allie Blackwood, Christian Heritage’s Rebecca Leonard, North Murray’s Megan Pittman and Northwest’s Colbie Thomas and Hannah Godfrey play for the Georgia Force Elite, and the team also qualified for the ASA Nationals 18-gold division. The squad competed in the ASA’s 16-gold division last summer.
Blackwood is making her third consecutive appearance in an ASA national tournament. She was on last year’s team, which she said finished in the top 20, and two years ago was on the East Cobb Bullets, who were in the 16-gold division, and Blackwood said the team finished in the top 40.
She said next summer would be her last to play for a travel team, and it would have to be in the 18-A division where college players are allowed. Blackwood will play next spring at Austin Peay State University in Clarksdale, Tenn.
“There’s always a lot of teams from around the state,” Blackwood said. “If you make it to nationals, you’re obviously really good. Being able to play in 18-gold is cool, and this is the last time before I go off to college.”
Fellow recent graduate Mykeah Johnson is on the Tennessee Fury ’94 team playing in the ASA’s 18-A division tournament, which begins next Sunday in Salem, Va. As of Monday, the tournament’s team list included 76 squads. Boyd said Ashley Connor is on the Tennessee Fury ’96, which will compete at the Premier Girls Fastpitch national tournament, which begins next Sunday in Irvine, Calif.
None of the local players or high school coaches knew of anyone else who was competing in a nationals tournament.
Boyd’s teams — prior to the Chattanooga-based Fury, she played on a Calhoun travel squad — have gone to nationals the past five years. Twice the Fury tied for fifth. Weeks’ team reached nationals since the 12-and-under division and finished in the top 10 once.
Still, Weeks said it’s tough to even earn a spot in the event.
“You’re one of the top-rated teams in the nation if you get to go to that tournament,” she said. “You have to qualify to go, and it’s usually the best teams across the country.”
Blackwood agreed. She said only “two or three” other players on the Dalton High team besides her play summer travel ball. The talent level for nationals is much higher than the GHSA state playoffs, which the Lady Catamounts reached the past two falls.
“There’s a tremendous difference,” Blackwood said. “On the high school teams, you have maybe three or four standout players. At nationals, pretty much every player is a standout player. It’s just a completely different level of ball.”
Local players on the road looking for tourney titles
Macy Weeks said making any national softball tournament is tough.
- Dalton High School Catamounts
Whatever it takes
Northwest Whitfield High School’s baseball team has been successful this season. But at the same time, no one said success would be easy.
Several times this year, the Bruins have fallen behind early in the first few innings before answering with a rally to ensure the wins keep coming. On Friday, that formula delivered a Sub-region 7B-4A championship for the second year in a row.
Prep Roundup: Unbeaten streak rolls on for Cats
Replicating the start of last year’s Class 4A state title match, Dalton High School’s boys soccer team needed just four minutes to score its first goal at Southeast Whitfield on Friday.
The Catamounts scored five more — and again defended their crown of dominance in the sport.
Prep Roundup: Bruins power past Cats for key victory at home
TUNNEL HILL — Similar to Wednesday’s Sub-region 7B-4A baseball series opener at Dalton High School, Northwest Whitfield fell behind early Thursday versus the Catamounts.
Prep Baseball: Looking for a leader
Dalton High School baseball coach Shane Ramsey only needed one word to sum up what he expects from this week’s three-game series with Sub-region 7B-4A foe and intracounty rival Northwest Whitfield.
“Intensity,” he said. “If you can’t get up for this series, then why are you playing?”
Prep Roundup: Dalton golf teams in form at Fields Ferry
Even in wet and muddy conditions, both the Dalton High School boys and girls golf teams are sharpening their games at the right time.
With the Region 7-4A tournament scheduled in two weeks, both the Catamounts and the Lady Cats finished second during play at the Fields Ferry Invitational in Calhoun on Monday. Despite the soggy conditions, Dalton’s Jacob Brown tied for medalist honors with a 2-over par 74 to lead the Cats to a 313 combined score in the six-play, four-score format. Dalton finished three strokes behind tournament winner LaFayette.
All-Area Wrestling Team and Wrestler of the Year: Winning another title was the only goal for Wheeler
When Dalton High School wrestler Sidney Wheeler won a state title for the first time two years ago as a sophomore, he admitted he became a little complacent about what it would take to replicate the feat — perhaps not noticeably so to most observers, but enough to take success for granted. Wheeler believed it a matter of course that he would win state again, and he thought the second title would simply be the middle child in a high school three-peat.
Prep Roundup: Behr finds his stroke in Vidalia
Dalton High School golfer Allen Behr shot a 3-under-par 69 during the second day of the Indian Invitational in Vidalia to lead the Catamounts to a top-10 finish in the event Saturday.
Out of control victory
Dalton and LaFayette high schools are on spring break this week, and on Monday their baseball teams’ pitching took a vacation when it came to throwing strikes.
The teams combined for 14 walks and four hit batters in a Sub-region 7B-4A game at Dalton, although most of the damage belonged to the host Catamounts, who won 5-4 despite their control problems.
Prep Baseball: Sane taking his drive to Chattanooga State
Grant Sane isn’t a player who is concerned with his stats or his individual accomplishments. He is more interested in doing whatever he can do for his Dalton High School baseball team to be successful.
Sharp enough to win
Dalton High School freshman pitcher Sam Stepp found himself in a jam a lot during Wednesday’s home game against Ridgeland.
He always found a way out.
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- Whatever it takes