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It’s tournament time ... July 18-19-20

07/13/2017, 9:00pm PDT
By Tom Mauldin

The rosters are set.

The schedules are in.

College coaches have received rosters.

The program is at the printer.

All that remains are for the players to pick up their jerseys, meet their teammates and coaches.

And for the umpires to yell “play ball.”

The Fastpitch Northwest College Exposure Tournament is set to kick off Tuesday morning at Borst Park in Centralia. The city’s maintenance crews have put extra work in this week in preparation for the three-day event that will feature more than 200 softball prospects from around the Northwest, Colorado and Hawaii.

“Well, the tournament is here…I can’t wait to have our college coaches to take a look at our athletes,” said Fastpitch Northwest director Ken Olson. “We really have a very strong bunch of recruitable kids this year and our younger players bring a ton of talent to the field.” 

Two tournaments run simultaneously during the three-day event. One tournament features graduates from 2018 and 2019, while the other will spotlight players who will graduate high school in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Between 9 and 10 a.m. on Tuesday, all the players will invade the NW Sports Hub in Centralia’s Borst Park to check in for the three-day event. Players get their jerseys, meet their teammates and coaches and begin pre-game warmups for Tuesday’s first round games at 11 a.m. Games start at noon.

Four rounds of games will be played on Wednesday with an awards ceremony slated at 2 p.m. Three rounds of games are played on Thursday to close out the tournament.

It’s been a busy time for Olson and his staff. It all started in late November when Olson and assistants Tom and Cat Mauldin ventured to Hawaii for a pair of Prospect Evaluation Camps. More than 60 Island prospects showed their skills as the day-long camp and more than two dozen have been placed on teams for the upcoming tournament.

“There are over 25 Hawaiian players making the trek over to Centralia and for the first time ever we have close to 10 kids from Colorado competing in the tournament,” said Olson. “We have always had great kids from Washington, Oregon and Idaho also” 

Olson hosted Fastpitch NW’s first ever PEC in Colorado in April and he noted they will make a good showing to Northwest coaches this week.

That trio of PECs was followed by the Idaho (Pocatello, Twin Falls and Caldwell), Oregon (Sisters, Portland, Medford) and Washington (Ellensburg, Walla Walla, Spokane, Centralia and Auburn) PECs.

“Every year we seem to get stronger and stronger and that brings in the coaches, and they won’t be disappointed,” said Olson.

At the PECs, players were tested using the SPARQ and the NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) comparatives and evaluated by the Fastpitch Northwest staff.

The SPARQ rating system and the NFCA Comp guide are merely measuring guides. The system is designed to measure sport-specific athleticism. The results from these tests are combined and weighted using a formula specific to softball. Nike Sports developed the rating system for several sports, including softball.

SPARQ represents Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness. It’s an acronym that excites coaches ... especially when they see attention-grabbing performances. 

The NFCA comparatives include Bat Exit Speed (the speed of the ball coming off the bat), base running and throwing.

Coaches need numbers and Fastpitch NW’s PECs and Player Profiles give them just that. 

That said, however, while SPARQ is a good evaluator in many regards, there are outstanding softball players who will not register even average marks. But coaches like it when athletes want to improve their marks, regardless of how low or  high  ... it shows pride in performance.

Some of the performances that stood out during the PECS included a pair of Fastpitch NW records.

Brooke Leger and Natasha Vincent opened their 2017 Prospect Evaluation Camps with Fastpitch Northwest records that were eye-popping.

Leger, 2019 from South Salem High School (Salem, Ore.), recorded a 28.6 vertical leap and Vincett Vincett, from Kittitas (Wash.) recorded a 79 mile per hour exit speed.

Leger recorded her 28.6 record at the Sisters (Central Oregon) PEC and  Vincett turned in her 79 at the Ellensburg PEC. She will graduate in 2018. The previous vertical jump was 27.1 and the exit speed record was 77 mph.

Both Leger and Vincett had other impressive efforts as both clocked under 2.50 for home to first: Vincett at 2.49 and Leger was 2.46 and 2.47. Vincett also had a 10.97 home to home and Leger was 11.01. Vincett’s vertical was 24.6.

Other top marks included:

Courtney Call recorded a 77 mph exit speed at the Twin Falls PEC.

- Gracie Elliott clocked 66 on her overhand infield throw at the Portland PEC.

Hannah McNerney clocked 62 mph on several pitches at the Portland PEC.

“These are only a few of the top marks that were posted during the PECs,” said Olson.

Mauldin noted that players should be contacting college coaches to let them know the name of their team and their schedule of games for the upcoming team.

“We talk a lot about communication and this is the perfect time to contact the coaches,” said Mauldin. “It really is as simple as out of sight, out of mind. If they don’t know who you are and when and where you are playing, a good opportunity will be missed.”

“I can’t wait for Tuesday…..Let’s go,” said Olson.

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