Braves pack their bags again for national tourney
Hey, Florida, here they come again.
Next week, the Tonganoxie Braves 16A softball squad will compete in a national tournament for another year, the team's second consecutive in Florida.
The Braves will begin play next Wednesday in the United States Specialty Sports Association Elite Fastpitch Softball Tournament in Osceola, Fla.
Last summer, Tonganoxie played in the tournament at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. This summer, the Braves will play in Osceola, Fla.
Tonganoxie has won two tournaments this summer, a Father's Day tournament in Manhattan in which the Braves went a perfect 5-0 and the Miken Tournament in Johnson County.
The Braves finished third in the USSSA state tournament, which qualified them for nationals.
In that tourney, Tonganoxie went 5-2 and hit six home runs, including a Ronnie Grizzle grand slam.
Tonganoxie has played in all USSSA tournaments except one, an American Fastpitch Association tournament in Basehor.
Currently, the Braves are 18-6. Some years, the team played more than 60 games in a summer, but with the high school season in the spring, the Braves didn't begin until after Memorial Day in late May.
"It's a continuation from where we played in high school, so the girls have played a lot of softball," Braves coach Craig Lohman said.
Team members, Lohman said, are eager to get back to the Sunshine State.
"The experience from last year is going to help," Lohman said. "Weather-wise and teamwise.
"You know down there in Florida it is hot and it rains about very day."
Last year, rain postponed many games at the tournament, at which the Braves did not place. The team does have a national title to its credit, however. The Braves won the 2004 AFA14B tournament, which was played in Lawrence.