SilverStrikers ready for Triple Crown tournament next week
July 15, 2011
Scott Chester and Josh Lair know their Summit County SilverStrikers probably won’t win the 16U Triple Crown Fastpitch World Series next week here in Park City. But they know their young team, comprised of athletes from Park City, North and South Summit high schools, will represent the community, showcasing the advancement of the game of softball. And to the coaches, that’s the most important thing they can do.
This will be the third year the 16U SilverStrikers will have competed in the Triple Crown tournament in Park City. Chester, the club’s head coach, said he is confident in his team’s ability this year. In years past, the SilverStrikers were able to get maybe five or six games under their belts before the popular nationwide tournament was played in their backyard. This year, after the team plays in the Firecracker Tournament at the Cottonwood Complex this weekend, the SilverStrikers will have played 22.
"It’s obviously big for us being at home," Chester said. "The level of competition is so big. We’ve been successful in the past winning games.
"We’re more prepared this year, but we’re a young team. Just to get to play at home and play on our dirt is pretty cool."
Lair is in his first year as an assistant with the team, but has coached softball in town for quite some time. He said he is ready for the Triple Crown tournament to help softball grow in Summit County.
"I’m very excited," he said. "These girls have worked so hard on a competitive level. Softball has been overlooked here for so long. I’m very excited to put them out there and to see what they’ve done pay off. This team actually knows what they’re doing."
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Lair said the team consisting of seven girls from South Summit, four from Park City and two from North Summit has talent.
"I think we’ve been able to give them a lot more preparation," he said. "We are focused so much more on fundamentals and it goes into practice. I think the fundamentals they’re getting from us are going to be relayed onto the field."
Chester said many of the girls on the team realize that playing in front of their home crowd on such a large stage could be intimidating, but it’s a test his athletes should be up for.
"There will be added pressure there," he said. "I hope they’re up to the challenge of playing at home. I think it’s going to be a big obstacle for some of our kids."
He said this summer the team has had trouble finding a middle ground. One tournament, the team will pitch and play stellar defense, but the bats will be silent. The next tournament, it’s the polar opposite.
"It’s been odd," Chester said.
He singled out a couple key players that must stay hot in the tournament. Kylie Atkinson, a junior at South Summit, is hitting over .400 this summer and is 9-for-9 in stolen-base attempts. Fellow Lady Wildcat, Abby Peterson, leads the team in batting average at nearly .475.
In Triple Crown, each team in pool play will play four games. The SilverStrikers will have two games Tuesday and two Wednesday. Each team is guaranteed six games; once pool play is concluded, each team will be placed in brackets appropriate to how they fared through the first four games.
"There are teams here coming to win this tournament," he said. "We’re just trying to compete and show Summit County we can win and play some softball."
To Chester, it’s all about his athletes learning the game.
"We’ll still get a chance to play against teams in the same position we’re in, and more importantly get great game experience," he said.
The team will face clubs from Colorado, California, Nevada and Washington in pool play. Asked if he is tempted to scout opponents more in a high-profile tournament, Chester said he’d rather just let the game come to him and his team.
"These are teams we know nothing about," he said. "Nowadays, you can find out about anything on the Internet, and you can see these teams there. I tend not to over think it too much. You just kinda gotta go out and let your instincts take over."
Lair said it isn’t always about winning, and this series should showcase both the strengths and weaknesses of this local team.
"What this is going to do for these girls is give an opportunity, a chance to play against higher levels," he said. "The educational value for this tournament is invaluable. Hopefully the community recognizes that."