There’s a time-tested, historical strength within Triple Crown Sports fastpitch when it comes to putting great players in front of college coaches.
But that doesn’t mean fresh thinking about current trends in the sport are ignored. With the skill level of 14u players on the rise – and interest from recruiters following suit – TCS has created The Dirty Dozen, a four-game round-robin tournament accompanying the City of Lights Showcase event in Las Vegas.
Set for Oct. 28-29, this event will draw the sharpest, sturdiest 14u teams from nationally-known club programs ranging from the Pacific time zone through the Midwest. (Click HERE to see the bracket)
Establishing a fierce tone from Ohio will be the Beverly Bandits DeMarini 14u Futures, an essentially recalibrated team featuring 10 new players and three returnees from a season ago. While that may sound like a roster that’s a bit green for an event of this pedigree, assistant coach Matt Bailey says the athletes are fully prepared and motivated.
It helps that the players, at 12u, occasionally subbed for each other on different teams – the families know each other already, and there’s at least a little familiarity out there.
“We are a brand new futures team, and we want to get our name out there. This is a great way to get us known,” Bailey said. “For a lot of us, this is the first time we’ve gotten on a plane to go play softball. It’s an opportunity for us to build the team and play against the best. We want to test our skills and see what we need to work on to compete at a high level.
“There will be positives and negatives we’ll see. But we want to showcase our girls in front of the colleges and others teams; this is one of the best organizations in the country, and I happen to think it is the best. We can’t wait to get out there and get to work.”
Lily Cassell was an unquestioned ace in the circle a season ago, and she’ll be joined by Kaelyn Mathis to handle the majority of that task. Shortstop is more than capably handled by the strong arm and skillset of Hannah Hunt; Sidney Payton does some of her best work at the plate with runners on base, and leadoff hitter Kirnan Bailey likes to work long counts – she reached base 105 times in her last 162 plate appearances last season (a .648 OBP).
“Most of the girls have played in a big atmosphere like this; it’s our first time out west, and it will be nice to play teams we haven’t seen before,” coach Bailey added. “But we’ve been on big stages before; this is good experience. It opens a lot of eyes for the parents – this is the time now to be seen. It’s out there, and we’re happy for an opportunity to be seen. We’ll hustle in and out and compete at a high level – that’s what being in the Bandits is all about.”
The action begins with three 10 a.m. games Oct. 28 at the Russell Road Complex in Henderson, NV.
“Colleges have been looking for this kind of truly ‘boutique’ recruiting opportunity and will love what they see. It’s a look at the youngest impact athletes in the sport, in competitive matchups, that bring together proven and accomplished programs,” said TCS fastpitch director Elliott Finkelstein. “We look forward to the sight of these dedicated, talented youth coaches bringing their teams in for an unusually strong 14u showdown.”
Here’s a look at who’s coming to the Dirty Dozen (actually, 10):