No such thing as a slow summer for
The constant traveling coupled with the numerous games of summer softball could be enough to make some young athletes grow weary of a sport they once loved.
However, Eudora resident Mackenzie Salzman thrives under the pressure and current competition that demands year-round practice of young softball players.
Salzman, who pitches in Eudora's recreation league, joined a fast-pitch club softball team known as the 10-and-under Olathe Rockets, the champions of the ASA Mid-America Regional Softball tournament in Jefferson City, Mo. The 12-member Rockets, who hold a 40-3 record in tournament play, gained experience against older competition when the team played 12-and-under-teams in the Olathe Girls Softball Association league. A left fielder for the Rockets, Salzman enjoys playing on a team that is focused on winning championships.
"I like playing outfield because you get to make amazing catches," Salzman said. "And I like pitching because you get people out."
This week, the Olathe-based team composed of athletes from across northeast Kansas, are competing for the national crown at the national fastpitch tournament in St. Louis, Mo., July 30-Aug. 5. The games will be played at the Manchester Athletic Association Complex.
Salzman, who is entering the sixth grade at Eudora West, has had experience on the diamond since her T-ball days six years ago.
Salzman's mother, Renee, said the competition was good for her daughter because contrary to some of their opponent's coaching staff, the Rockets coaches keep the game in perspective
"This group of coaches are really good," Renee said. "Some of the coaches at tournaments are screaming at kids but these (Rockets) coaches discuss things with the kids."
Throughout the season, the Rockets have established a sizzling rivalry with the Topeka Blizzards, a team sponsored by Dairy Queen. Olathe has had the upper hand in the rivalry thus far, but the games are always fun, Renee said.
"There is never a dull moment at practice for the kids," Renee said. "The coaches have them do rhythm throwing, and it really makes it fun for them.
Mackenzie said she likes playing a sport that season spans from March and concludes with a Halloween tournament.
"I like playing softball because I get to meet new people," Mackenzie said. "When you play during the school year, you get to go back to school and tell your friends that you won."
When Mackenzie is not playing on the softball diamond, she can be found playing outside, working on computers, watching movies, and participating in girls scouts activities
Mackenzie, who can boast of a 35-40 mph pitch, likes playing on the mound and in the outfield. When she gets the chance to represent Eudora as an EHS softball player in a few years, Mackenzie will have to decide what position she will want to play. Her mother hopes her dedication and natural talent will take her beyond the high school level.
"She pitches 35-40 per hour and accidently broke my nose in two places," Renee said. "Hopefully, she'll get a scholarship out of this."