Southern Ice fastpitch team second in national tourney

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 9, 2006

The locally-based Southern Ice fastpitch softball team finishedsecond in the 18-under ASA East National Tournament held inClinton.

The Ice, won both of its pool games, then went 4 and 2 inbracket play to finish runners-up. Nine teams participated in theNational B-class tournament, ranging from Pennsylvania, Arkansas,Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi.

The Ice, formed last year by Co-Lin Community College Head CoachAllen Kent and assistant Johnny Williams, was put together to helpsome of Co-Lin’s signees and future hopefuls have a chance toobtain some valuable experience. The team travels throughoutMississippi, Louisiana and Alabama playing in tournaments.

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Coach Kent said he has noticed significant improvements in thosewho participate. “Not only does it give them more reps and practicetime in the summer, but it exposes them to better competitionoverall than they normally see during school ball.”

This team was put together out of necessity, according to Kent.”There was nobody in the area playing any summer fastpitch. Anysummer ball being played had been primarily slowpitch.”

This year’s Ice had additional coaching help from Megan Batemanof Brookhaven and Jackie Stowe of Copiah Academy. Bateman and Stoweboth want to coach after college. The two recent Co-Lin graduateswere asked by Kent to help, and both agreed. Not only did it givethem valuable experience for their resume, it also helped them gettheir feet wet.

“I told Megan and Jackie that Coach Williams and myself would bethere as much as we could to help, but I wanted them to do themajority of the coaching and make most of the decisions,” saidKent. “This meant organizing practice, giving signals, making outlineups, etc. They both jumped in and did a great job with it. Theyboth also have a true love for the game and I know they will befantastic coaches.”

Stowe and Bateman were members of Co-Lin’s 2006 fastpitch squadwhich won state and regional tournaments and finished third in theNJCAA Division II National Tournament in Normal, Ill.

The MACJC (Mississippi Association of Community and JuniorColleges) passed a rule, effective in August, that no communitycollege coach can coach a team in the offseason.

“What that means is that we need local coaches and parents toroll up their sleeves and get involved,” Kent explained. “Not onlyat the older levels, but with the younger girls as well.”

Kent said slowpitch is a popular sport in youth leagues as wellas at the high school level but it has a lot of negatives, comparedto fastpitch. Only fastpitch scholarships are available on thecollege level.

“The slowpitch mentality is still alive and well in our area andthat is a very sad thing,” said Kent. “It is a slow, easy, boringgame. Mississippi is the only state left in the United States stillplaying slowpitch in the high schools.

“The last college slowpitch scholarships were given out sevenyears ago. I was startled to hear recently that some high schoolsare currently having two-a-days (practices) for slowpitch. Funny,but I’ve never heard of two-a-days for fastpitch.

“We need to push our local leagues, coaches and parents to helpus catch up with everyone else,” Kent continued. “The talent iscertainly here in the area. We need to do a better job of givingthe girls the opportunity to play summer fastpitch and make it abetter situation for all involved.”