In between long hot innings on the ball field, girls participating in the 2011 USA/ASA Girls 10-Under Class A Fastpitch Softball National Championship have been taking advantage of their free time by exploring East Tennessee, while others stay focused on the game ahead.
The New Lenox Lightning from the South Side of Chicago have had a lot of water-based fun during lapses in tournament play. On Tuesday, the girls went white water rafting on the Nolichucky River.
“We had kind of pre-planned a team rafting outing,” said Lenox Lightning Manager Bob Gedville. “It was exciting. They had a good time. It’s something that they’re not accustomed to doing because in our part of the country there is no white water.”
Some of the players also made the trip to Wetlands Water Park in Jonesborough before things got hectic on Thursday. A 4-1 loss on Wednesday to TPS 2000 sent the NL Lightning to the loser’s bracket, forcing them to play three games in one day. Even though there’s a lot on the line when it comes to national-level competition, Gedville says the most important thing about being in Johnson City is having fun and enjoying the surroundings.
“This is a pricey endeavor for us to come from a day’s drive or more and for most of the team members, this is family vacation,” he said.
The NL Lightning also took a trip to the movies and had a team dinner at Giovanni’s. Pitcher and outfielder Kaitlyn Lynch, 10, has been trading pins with other players during her downtime with the goal of collecting one from every team.
“It’s really fun here,” she said. “I really like it because I’ve never been here.”
Other teams, like the Frost Falcons 00 from Chattanooga, aren’t so set on crossing items off a fun to-do list.
“When you come to a tournament like this, you come here to play,” said John Walters, a pitching coach for the Frost Falcons.
His daughter, Shelby, says she spends most of her free time resting and not doing anything that could tire her out. On game days, the girls are supposed to stay out of the hotel swimming pool.
“There’s no vacation here,” said Shannon Walters. “You can vacation anytime. They come here to win.”
It hasn’t been all work and no play this week, as the girls set aside one night to dress up and have a team dinner at Texas Roadhouse.
“We had them wear sun dresses and made them look girly,” Shannon said with a laugh.
The Frost Falcons have kept a solid position in the winner’s bracket this week. They’ll face the Corona Angels today at 1 p.m.
For up-to-date scores and schedules, visit http://johnsoncityasanationals.com/.