Braves successful in first season
Tonganoxie team scores victory at July 4 tourney
Tonganoxie has only had a traveling 9- and 10-year-old softball team for part of a summer, but it has shown itself good enough to be invited to a national tournament next month.
The Tonganoxie Braves will be one of 36 team competing for the national 10-and-under American Fastpitch Association championship on Aug. 3 in Basehor.
The Braves, who travel to play in tournaments throughout the summer, are made up of some of the best girls from six summer recreation teams.
Midwest Carpet, Community National Bank, Himpel Lumber, Rising Sun Construction, Sertomas and River City Gardening are represented on the team.
The girls have had a good season. Playing against some of the best teams around, the Braves earned an 18-13 record in its first year.
But this success didn't happen overnight. The team has been working on getting better since the turn of the millennium.
"We started in January working out in the gym a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon," Coach Pat Albert said. "In March we got outside and really started working on our skills."
In the team's first tournament of the season on March 31, the practice paid off. It took second place in the round robin tournament, after losing one of four games.
Working hard on its game throughout the months of April and May, the team put together a strong showing in mid-June.
At the Dog Days of Summer tournament, which was June 13-15 in Basehor, the Braves turned in another second-place finish.
A few weeks later the Braves practice finally paid off in full when it won a July 4 tournament in Johnson County.
Albert said his team was well-rounded and had few weaknesses.
"We've got some girls who can really hit," he said. "We're very aggressive with good pitching. We've got what it takes to win most ball games."
Albert said that in recreation leagues teams are put together in an attempt to make the teams closer in talent level and games more competitive more fun.
He said the difference between those teams and his team was that his team plays to win and to refine their skills.
"In traveling teams we take girls who want to be serious softball players and develop them," Albert said. "By the time they are in high school, they should be able to move into the high school program."