'Tri-State Toxic' plays competitive softball
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Region - posted Tue., Aug. 7, 2012
The Tri-State Toxic 14U softball team played at Riverside Park in North Grosvenordale on Aug. 3. It was a rare opportunity for the 13- and 14-year-old girls to have a friendly scrimmage with another Amateur Softball Association team. Usually the team has to travel to weekend tournaments for competition. They've been to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
For the girls and their parents, playing ASA softball is a big commitment. The cost for joining some teams can run from as high as $1,800 a season, according to coach John Szamocki. “This program is $300,” he said. “We try to keep the costs as low as possible. We have excellent athletes who play on the team, and we try to keep costs down so they can play. We have kids who would never be able to play on those other teams because of the charges.” The money pays for tournaments that can each cost between $325 and $400.
What the girls get for their money is a chance to continue to play softball competitively, learn more advanced skills, and play several different positions during the summer. Players on the Toxic moved from infield to outfield and from one base to another. It's all about flexibility. “If you can fill the need on a team, you'll play high school ball,” said General Manager Gerri Szamocki.
The strategy also helps the Toxic compete. With 11 players on the roster, all of the girls need to know how to play several positions. Two players were unable to attend Friday night's game, leaving them with just enough players for the game. “We have to be versatile in case we have an injury, or we need to change pitchers, or something like that,” said Szamocki. “And we always look at the strong points of the players.”
For girls interested in playing softball in the northeastern corner of the state, there aren't many options available. “After a certain age, there's no softball left for them,” said assistant coach Randy Ratliff. “I don't think parents are aware that there is a 14U softball team in Thompson.”
“We don't just try to teach girls the game of softball,” Szamocki said. “We try to instill life values so they are responsible, they know sportsmanship and they respect others.”