The Cary Crush fastpitch softball organization had its most successful summer since its start in 2005 and qualified all eight of its teams for national tournaments.
Three of those teams, the 14U98, 14U Blue and 16UPA, placed at North American Fastpitch Association national tournaments July 25 to 28 in Minnesota.
The 14U98 team took third and 14U Blue finished 15th at Eden Prairie, Minn. The 16UPA team was ninth in Shoreview, Minn.
Crush Travel director Jim Rathe said the success is attributable to three things.
“[The players] want to improve. They want to get better,” Rathe said. “We’ve got a great group of coaches that have coached or played at various levels.”
The last reason is the Crush’s new indoor practice facility that gives the organization year-round access to train.
“When you’ve got a facility you’ve got access to all year, that’s a huge asset,” Rathe said. “All three of those assets came together very nicely.”
Being able to train indoors has made a significant difference in hitting and in keeping opponents off the bases.
“One of our biggest impacts has been the hitting of our players has improved immensely,” Rathe said. “We’re also not seeing as many defensive errors."
The 14U98 team won its first game but got sent to the losers' bracket in the second game. Rathe said it was a huge accomplishment for the team to battle back and finish third.
“It’s a long road back from there,” Rathe said. “You play five games in a row; that’s a lot to play.”
Rathe said there were no regrets about finishing third.
“We beat some very good teams along the way,” Rathe said. “Every game was a battle.”
The success already has the players and coaches looking forward to next season.
“All the coaches are excited about the coming year,” Rathe said. “We’re returning a lot of good talent. That’s really encouraging because there’s a lot of experience those players are bringing.”
Woodstock Softball goes undefeated: The Woodstock Girls Softball U12 All-Star team went 15-0 en route to three tournament championships this summer. The team won titles in Cary, Woodstock and McHenry tournaments.
They not only won, they won big, outscoring their opponents 149 to 22 in the 15 games.
Woodstock coach Dan White said the team got along as well off the field as they did on it which made his job easier. There were no personal conflicts from the players or parents.
“They meshed together very well as a team,” White said. “They all got along and played as one unit.”
With a lot of players returning from last year’s all-star squad, White knew he had a good team, just not how good.
“We knew they’d have a winning record, but we didn’t know they‘d go undefeated,” White said.
The team excelled in softball fundamentals.
“We had an outstanding pitching staff,” White said. “They hit the ball real well and were aggressive at the plate.”
Almost all of the now seventh- and eighth-graders will end up at one of the Woodstock high schools. White said the organization takes great pride in preparing players for high school.
“We consider ourselves a big part of the feeder program,” White said. “When we send these kids off to high school they do very well.”
• Rob Smith is a sports writer for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.