Third-place finish in Bend qualifies team for tournament
Experience. Fun. Win.
That's what Central Oregon Voodoo Manager Reggie Holcomb wants his players to have when they take on 64 other teams at the Triple Crown World Series in Park City, Utah next week.
The fastpitch 14U softball team, who qualified for the tournament after a third-place finish at the Bend Showdown, has been having a great week at practice, the manager said.
"They just played absolutely fabulous defense (at the Bend Showdown) and that's what got them third place," Holcomb said. "If we can come into this tournament with the defense that we had at the Bend Showdown and the bats we've been bringing lately, we'll be just fine."
The Voodoo will open the tournament against Riverside, Calif., as the first of their four games in pool play. According to Holcomb, teams from California have a history of coming out strong and winning the tournament. Since this is the first time the Voodoo have been to the national tournament, experience is obviously their weakness.
"We'll be playing a lot of teams that have been playing all year round," Holcomb said. "Our strengths are that we never quit. The tougher the competition, the tougher they seem to play."
Along with the Bend Showdown, the Voodoo recently took seventh place out of 37 teams at the state tournament at Aloha in Portland, and fifth place at the regional qualifier in Salem. Players on the team are Ashlie Ostrander, Cheyenne McDaniel, Sydney Waite, Josi and Sami Verity, Courtney McCarthy, Emily Gannon, Lisa Lowenstein, Payton Harris, Bre Crakes, McKenna Ontko, Paige and Brooke Buswell, and Jennifer Sweet.
After the state tournament wrapped up, Holcomb said his players began to focus on nationals.
"On Monday night's practice, they came out with enthusiasm and are excited for this tourney," he said. "It was probably one of the best practices we've had."
The tournament will run from July 18-22, and teams from New York, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, California, and Utah, among other states, will be in attendance.
Holcomb said he is expecting competition equal to or better to what the Voodoo saw at both the state and regional tournaments. But with gaining experience and having fun his main concerns for the team, winning will be an added bonus.
"I'm not going to place anything on them," he said. "The girls play better when they are loose. As long as they're playing loose, they'll be playing really well."