By Tom Mauldin 8/17/2021
Fastpitch Northwest’s 12th College Exposure tournament completed recently and there was a surplus of standout players auditioning to play at the next level.
At least that was the verdict of college coaches, fans and players from throughout the Northwest after 16 teams played five games each over three days in Chehalis, WA.
“It was good to see the Fastpitch NW Championships again this year,” said St. Martin’s University head coach James Peterson, “As a coach, we want to watch as many possible recruits as we can, and It was very easy to watch multiple games at the Chehalis location.”
Peterson knows all about the talent level at Fastpitch Northwest’s College Exposure Tournament as FPNW alum Britney Patrick is currently on the Saint Martins Softball roster and is a former FPNW championship player. She was selected the Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s Freshman of the Year last season after batting .328 and collecting 41 base hits in 37 games.
Was there another Patrick at the championships this year?
“There certainly was a lot of talent,” said Mike Brooks, Fastpitch Northwest general manager. “There were a lot of standout players who displayed a high quality of skill levels. Some looked ready to play at the next level. They will be fun to follow over the years.”
As is the case each year at Fastpitch Northwest, college coaches got an opportunity to add to their recruiting files. Let the recruiting begin.
“There was a good group of talented players this year, and getting an opportunity to watch players from the Greater Northwest in one location is very beneficial in our recruiting,” added Peterson. “We were able to identify several young players that we have put on our recruiting radar.”
The tournament format brings together top softball players from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana and this year included players from Alaska and California.
Oregon and Washington had three teams each in the Upper Division, while Idaho had two and there were two At-Large teams. Oregon Royal, featuring a number of Central Oregon players, won the Upper Division title representing incoming high school seniors and juniors.
Washington Lime, featuring Nadia Chernich from North Pole, Alaska, captured the Underclass Division title for players who will graduate high school in 2024, 2025 and 2026.
Al Mendiola, head coach at College of Idaho, said “Overall, I think FPNW was a great success. I was especially impressed with the talent of the younger groups.”
Shawna Cyrus, head coach at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, spotted several players that are now on her “watch list.”
“Fastpitch NW was a great place to see some very talented student-athletes,” said Cyrus. “I got to see many local athletes that may have been flying under the radar or that I hadn't yet seen before.”
Eastern Oregon University head coach Nicole Christian said “I love seeing the growth of this event and I love seeing all the talent from across the states showing up and competing.”
The college coaches weren’t the only ones pleased with the 2021 event. Parents had many superlatives to share as well.
“I think the tournament was one of the most fun that I’ve been blessed to watch,” said Mike Ebner of Keizer, OR. “Our daughters had a great time getting to know the girls that they’ve been playing against for years on a different level. To bring a group of talented girls together, put them on a team and say ‘just go play the game you all love’ was something pretty darn special.”
Ebner added, “I believe the college coach interaction was amazing. I’ve talked about this experience with many of my friends and customers non stop since we got back from Washington. Can’t wait to hopefully do it again next year.”
Chernich said she “loved” the event and hopes to return.
“I loved everything about it from the facility to my teammates to the competition. It was an excellent event with so many good players. I hope to return.”
Cyrus added, “I was really impressed with the layout of the Championship Tournament, as I got to see individuals in many different positions and play many times. I will definitely keep coming back.”
Christian finalized, “I’m excited to see how our team competes in October at the City of Lights tournament.”
Christian was referencing the Upper Division’s All-Northwest Team that will play in the City of Lights Tournament in Las Vegas the last weekend of October.