Victories were not the main metric for the Upper Perk Blaze at the 2014 TNT Summer Showcase softball tournament. Competing and scoring runs were the goal for the team of players ages 14 and under, according to head coach Jacquie Fretz.
She said the team was thrilled to win two of its eight games during the four day tournament against competition three and four years older.
"The girls did great," Fretz said. "They held their own. We put runs on the board. I'd consider it a successful weekend."
From Thursday through Sunday, 186 teams from all over the country were scheduled to compete at several locations between Lehigh and the Upper Perkiomen valleys, according to Larry Bearn, a tournament field marshal.
The sites included Alderfer Park in Harleysville, Percy Ruhe Park in Allentown, Veterans Park in Quakertown, Earl Druckenmiller Park in Sellersville, Milford Middle School, DeSales University and Camelot Park in Upper Hanover.
According to Fretz, the high level of competition motivated her team, which included three members of the Upper Perk Scream, an 18-and-under team. She said the Blaze, which includes players from the North Penn, Daniel Boone and Pottstown school districts, quickly dealt with the increased speed of playing against older players by winning its first game. "The girls were able to kick it up a notch," said Fretz, whose team played at Milford Middle School and Veterans Park. "They had to fight. Every game you had to fight for your life."
The presence of college softball coaches was palpable, according to Fretz. "You're not supposed to approach them," she said adding that they received information on each player. "But they were definitely writing things down."
On Friday, Samantha Campo, the head coach at Ursinus College, took notes as she watched a game on the upper field at Camelot Park. Campo said she had already seen players who could compete at all levels of college softball. "Coming to this tournament is well worth it," she said. "I'm enjoying it."
Campo said she is looking for a complete player who can play multiple positions. The coach added that versatility is very important for the Division III Bears, since they don't offer college scholarships.
Numerous college coaches attended the games at Camelot Park, according to Bearn. He said he identified the coaches from Muhlenberg, Messiah colleges and DeSales University at Camelot Park on Friday. "Most of the Division I coaches are in Quakertown," Bearn said.
Though there's no way to quantify the number of players who will benefit directly from the tournament, Bearn said he knows several players will find a team.
According to Bearn, his daughter Katie earned a place on the DeSales University team from participating in last year's tournament.
Meanwhile, Fretz said her team's performance at the showcase tournament will help prepare it for this weekend's 14U PONY National Tournament in Sterling, Va. "It was a great opportunity for our team moving forward," the coach said.