Some of the best youth softball players in the nation will gather to showcase their talents at the end of the month in a single elimination fast-pitch softball tournament at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.
Several Hancock County youth softball players will be heading to Orlando, Fla., next week to take part in the prestigious USSSA-USA Elite Select 2017 Futures All-American Games.
The local players selected to participate in the tournament are Megan Wineinger, who will play for the 12-under team; Easton Wampler and Angela Valentine for the 10-under squad and Josie White and Addisyn Trackwell, who will play for the 9-under team.
Officials with the tournament break the country up into eight different regions to create teams from all over the United States, who will play against each other for the championships in different age groups.
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The Hancock County girls will represent the Great Lakes Region made up of players from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana.
Players from the local region were chosen following tryouts in Indianapolis in late May. They were then divided into two different squads of 13 players from each age group, except for the 9U team where only 13 players were selected for one team.
The girls went through an intense, four-hour tryout to identify the top-level fast-pitch players for ages 9 to 14. All participants where evaluated on hitting, throwing, fielding and/or pitching and catching as well as their athletic ability in their top-two positions.
Fortville’s Blake Wampler will be making the trip with his daughter, Easton Wampler, 11, of Mt. Vernon Middle School.
While his daughter, who he’s coached, is excited to make the trip and hopes to play well enough for her team to win, she’s mostly looking forward to getting the chance to play softball a little longer this summer.
“I don’t think she understands just what she has accomplished making the team,” her father said. “She just loves to play softball.”
Greenfield’s Tiffany White will be taking her whole family to Orlando to watch her daughter, Josie White, 10, who attends Greenfield Intermediate School and plays for the 9U team.
“She’s excited she made the team and is excited to be able to play in Florida,” her mother said. “Josie does like softball, but she does cheer also and loves them both. She’s the type of player who will get out there and be competitive and try to do her best.”
David Trackwell has been coaching his daughter Addisyn Trackwell, 9, of Sugar Creek Elementary School, all summer and expects her to be ready for the national competition for the 9U team.
“She’s a gamer for sure, works her tail off and loves the game,” he said.
The family just returned from a tournament in Branson, Mo., where Trackwell played for the Indiana Gators. She then went to Johnson City, Tenn., to play with Indiana Heart out of Terre Haute before heading to Florida.
Trackwell also played for the Beverly Bandits out of Illinois this season. The Beverly Bandits are ranked as a top-five organization for developing softball players in the country.
Her father said, if his daughter can get her foot in the door now and grow with the organization, she’ll have a good chance of playing for a Division I program where she can trade her play for a high-quality education.
During the the Orlando tournament, Wampler and Valentine, who’ll play for the 10U team, have played against each other on area travel squads. They won’t know their Elite teammates until they arrive in Orlando and get together for a meet-and-greet and then practice.
The girls are assured of playing in at least a couple of pool games, but after that it’s a single-elimination tournament.