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Elite softball teams converge on Truckee Meadows
by Damian Tromerhauser
Jul 27, 2012 | 3029 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Former Spanish Springs standout Bella Rovens (2) slides into second base during her summer team’s game Friday afternoon. Rovens plays for the Reno Diamonds 18U.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Former Spanish Springs standout Bella Rovens (2) slides into second base during her summer team’s game Friday afternoon. Rovens plays for the Reno Diamonds 18U.
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Softball players from across North America have swarmed the Reno-Sparks area as travel clubs compete with one another for the Triple Crown Sports Tournament World Series title.

States throughout the United States are represented in the 16th World Series as 71 teams in the 16-and-under division compete, while 78 squads from the 18-and-under division battle for the Triple Crown Sports crown. Aside from gaining quality playing time on the field and competing against some of the top prep talent across the country, players in the TCS World Series also have the added bonus of being exposed to college scouts as coaches from 40 different schools were on hand at the tournament.

Despite all of these clear advantages, Events Director of the Girls World Series Bill Walters said there was one benefit that overrode them all.

“As an organization, we try to find the best venues and the best locations where it’s not just a tournament, but a little bit of a vacation,” Walters said while taking in games at Golden Eagle Regional Park. “Right here, look at the venue. We’ve been watching this facility since it was first announced and so we’ve been watching and waiting for the opportunity to get in here and use it. We use Shadow Mountain, Reno Sports Complex, Spanish Springs and Bishop Manogue High Schools, Damonte Ranch High School and Centennial Park down in Carson City. There’s so much available for a tournament like this.

“Right now we have the World Series on a rotation between Park City, Utah, San Diego, Calif., and Reno. It’s been a huge success for us. Our numbers have increased dramatically. The older kids we try to gear more toward college placement and the younger kids we aim more at the skills and fun stuff like a party at the bowling stadium. We try to make it more of a fun thing for them. In Park City, it’s a parade down main street, in San Diego we had opening ceremonies at the Padres, and then here we had a party at the bowling stadium.”

The fact that there is so much taking place both on and off the field is part of the appeal of the Triple Crown Sports World Series. Another intrigue is the professionalism of TCS.

“I think the attraction of this tournament for so many teams is our reputation of running a good event,” Walters said. “I think we put on a well run tournament. It’s well organized. The teams know what they’re getting when they get here. I think that’s what makes us stand out above a lot of other organizations. Moving the event to the large Northern California softball market also helps. There’s not another market like that in the country. There’s a lot of teams from that region that are here participating.”

A large number of groups playing for a World Series championship are from Nevada, with a bulk of players from Northern 4A schools. One such squad is the Reno Diamonds, which has six Spanish Springs Cougars or former players on its team (Megan Archer, Amanda Barham, Karlie Merritt, Kelsie Merritt, Bella Rovens and Sidney Sinclair).

“Honestly it’s been an amazing experience,” Diamonds coach Joyce Cathey said about working with the Spanish Springs players. “They’re a great group of girls and they work extremely hard. They work very well together, obviously because they’ve played together. We have great team chemistry for that reason. I think that chemistry is making a huge difference out there.

“More than anything though, their hard work and the heart that they’ve shown, that’s what has been carrying us. We’re down in numbers and everybody has just really stepped up, all 10 of them. That’s all we have is 10. All of them have just really stepped up and it’s been a team effort. It’s been great. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

The Diamonds have made it through tournament play unscathed thus far, thanks in large part to the pitching of Karlie Merritt and remain in the winners’ bracket heading into the final day of the tournament today with a championship in sight. If the Diamonds are unable to seize the championship though, they will have another shot in years to come as the TCS World Series looks to be a fixture in the area.

“Everyone likes the tournament and the venue,” Walters said. “From the players and coaches to the families. We have teams from every state from Colorado west. There’s a lot of good competition and they see a lot of teams that they don’t see over and over. They haven’t seen these teams before so that’s always huge. We came out and we did a site inspection and then we talked with the Parks and Rec about signing a 5-year-agreement. We like it here, so we’re here long term.”

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