Two Mitchell softball teams to play at nationalsTwo Mitchell fastpitch softball teams will take the field later this week at American Softball Association national tournaments in Kansas. The Mitchell Hurricanes will play in the ASA 14-and-under B Fastpich Nationals in Overland Park, Kan., and the Sign Pro Storm will play in the 16-and-under B Fastpitch Nationals in Wichita, Kan.
By: Matt Bunke, The Daily Republic
Two Mitchell fastpitch softball teams will take the field later this week at American Softball Association national tournaments in Kansas.
The Mitchell Hurricanes will play in the ASA 14-and-under B Fastpich Nationals in Overland Park, Kan., and the Sign Pro Storm will play in the 16-and-under B Fastpitch Nationals in Wichita, Kan.
The teams will be only the second and third Mitchell girls’ fastpitch teams to make the trip to nationals. KMIT became the first last season.
The Hurricanes qualified for their state tournament both by winning the South Dakota B state tournament and finishing second in a tournament in Bloomington, Minn. The Storm, who finished third in the South Dakota B tournament, qualified after neither of the top two teams could go.
“The girls are excited because we started talking last year about going to a bigger tournament,” Hurricanes’ coach Chris Kauwalu-Schultz said. “We told them if they went to Bloomington, and had a good showing, then they’d be able to go. To be honest, we think we have a good chance down there.”
The Hurricanes went undefeated this year, going 15-0 in league play, then cruising to four wins in the league tournament to win the title, and then going 6-0 at the state tournament. The Storm finished the regular season 12-2 and also won its division in the league tournament.
But both teams will run into even stiffer competition this week at a tournament that will feature teams from all over the Midwest, many of them coming from larger metro areas.
“We expect to see very good competition,” Storm coach Jim Misiaszek said. “We expect competition very similar to South Dakota’s A level.”
Misiaszek said his team always tries to schedule the best teams in South Dakota to prepare for tournaments just like this one, and so the level of competition won’t be anything new. Kauwalu-Schultz also said it’s important for South Dakota teams to continue traveling to national tournaments like these.
“If we keep pushing ourselves to go to the bigger tournaments outside of South Dakota, we can show that we can compete,” Kauwalu-Schultz said. “We competed in Bloomington very easily with the teams up there.”
Both coaches expressed confidence that their teams would be competitive at the national tournaments, but they also said the tournaments would be valuable in number of other ways. As fastpitch continues to grow in popularity in South Dakota, more and more players are looking for opportunities to play collegiately, and national tournaments like these will expose them to the type of players they’ll be competing against if they hope to play at that level.
“We hope to gain experience in putting these kids on that big stage,” Misiaszek said. “For those that want to go on and do this beyond high school, it won’t be new to them.”
This is only the fourth year of fastpitch softball in Mitchell, so sending teams to national tournaments is encouraging for the progress of the league. Kauwalu-Schultz said it wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of the players, and said there has been a learning curve for coaches as well as the league continues to transition from slowpitch, which it played before 2006.
As players and coaches have grown more familiar with the game, the success of the league’s teams has grown. Still, as relative newcomers to fastpitch softball, Kauwalu-Schultz said there shouldn’t be any pressure on the Mitchell teams as they take on teams that probably have much more experience.
“I told them after we won state that they have nothing to lose going down there,” Kauwalu-Schultz said. “What they should take out of this is experience and more knowledge of the game. That way, they see what they have to do, and they’ll see what they have to compete with to compete at the college level.”