Following the conclusion of the 18-and-under Gold national championship on July 28, where Greg Giles’ Atlanta Vipers team finished in the top six among 73 teams, the focus has shifted to the national Class A 18U, 16U, 14U, 12U and 10U tournaments, which begin today at various U.S. cities.
Forty-six Georgia travel softball teams qualified to participate in the tournaments. Pool play bracket contests take place today and Tuesday at the 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U venues with the championship tournament games beginning Wednesday. Pool play for the 10U tournament starts Wednesday with the championship tournament games beginning Thursday. In most instances, pool play results determine seeding for the double-elimination tournament where a champion will be crowned Saturday.
Eight Georgia teams earned berths to the 10U Class A fastpitch championship held at Twin Lakes Sports Park and Winslow Sports Complex in Bloomington, Ind. The 47-team field includes squads from the Cherokee Pride ’01, Easton Elite Heat, Georgia Impact, Georgia Select, Atlanta Vipers, and Georgia Force organizations. The Elite Heat and Impact each have two teams in the event.
The 12U Class A fastpitch championship will take place at Green Valley Sports Complex and Alan Campbell’s Complex in Moline, Ill. and feature 83 teams. Ten Georgia organizations are slated to compete including the Georgia Impact, Tanel 360 Bandits, Midway Miss Stix, NG Blaze, Georgia Fire, Atlanta Vipers, 12U ’99 Easton Elite, Worth Cobras and Georgia Force. Two clubs from the Georgia Impact will be in action.
There will be 114 teams vying for the 14U Class A fastpitch title at the Sherman Park Complex and Harmondon Park in Sioux Falls, S.D. Two clubs from the Georgia Force qualified as did squads from the Atlanta Vipers, Georgia Fire, Worth Cobras, Georgia Impact, Georgia Power and East Cobb Bullets.
The largest national tournament will be the 16U Class A championship in Montgomery, Ala. Held at five softball complexes — Lagoon Park, Fain Park, Thompson Park, Buddy Watson and Cramton Bowl Multi-Plex and Stadium — in the Montgomery area, the 16U tournament features 151 teams, including 12 from Georgia.
Competing organizations include the East Cobb Bullets, Atlanta Vipers, Georgia Impact, Georgia Power, Georgia Fire, Georgia Elite, Georgia Force Elite and Team Georgia. The Bullets, Vipers, Impact and Power each have two 16U teams playing.
Finally, 95 teams will be in action in Johnson City, Tenn. for the 18U Class A tournament. Winged Deer Park and Whitetop Creek Park Complex will host the event, which includes eight Georgia teams — Georgia Elite Gamers, Team Georgia, Atlanta Vipers, Middle Georgia Outrage, ’94 Duluth Wildcats, Georgia Combat (2) and the Georgia Fire.
All of these teams will be out to duplicate the accomplishment made by the East Cobb Bullets, who captured Georgia’s first ASA national championship — 18U Gold — in 2010 at Lost Mountain Park in Powder Springs.
“To play in these national tournaments is the end goal for all of the teams in Georgia,” said Vipers coach Phil Berry whose team will compete in the 16U tournament in Montgomery. “It’s a year long thing for these teams to qualify and see how they stack up against rest of the best teams in the country.
“There’s no question that the quality and improvement of Georgia softball is right up there. The depth and talent in Georgia has been commented on by other travel ball coaches and from college coaches who recruit our players. We have the type of talent that can go far in these tournaments and I wouldn’t be surprised if any one of the team came away with a national championship.”