FARMINGTON — A young group of local softball players hope the success they are sharing at an early age pays dividends as they move up the ranks in Farmington.
The 10-and-under Rolling Thunder softball team won the SCFA North/South All-Star championship earlier in June, qualifying the team for the United States Specialty Sports Association Fastpitch World Series to be held July 25 through 28 at the Las Cruces Sports Complex in Las Cruces.
"This is our very first time going to a world series. The competition is going to be stiff, but the girls are willing to work hard to prepare for the challenge," said Rolling Thunder head coach Travis Ned.
Ned had coached the team and kept a core of 10 girls together over the last four years. The recreation team added two new players this season.
"We are not a select team. We are just a recreation team, but I would consider them all-stars," Ned said.
By winning the All-Star championship at the Ricketts Softball Complex, the Rolling Thunder automatically qualified for the USSSA World Series, bypassing the state qualifying tournament.
Just weeks before the All-Star tournament, the Rolling Thunder took fourth in another tournament after playing three non-Farmington teams.
"That was a wake up call for the girls. It was the first time they had lost all season, and they walked away with three losses. They put in a lot of practice after that and really worked to get better," Ned said. "It dampened their spirits a little, but they went back to the drawing board. They perked up and took the challenge and answered the call, practicing three to four fays a week. They are dedicated, driven little girls."
The Rolling Thunder had to beat the Albuquerque Insanity twice in three games to win the All-Star tournament.
"Each time we played them, our confidence grew. The girls knew they would hang with them and they knew all their hard work and dedication was paying off and their confidence grew. They got better every single pitch," Ned said.
Ned said his coaching staff of Kory Ned, Bobby Beck, Stacey Beck, Ronnie Hensley, Kyle Stowell and Alyssa Rahm have learned as much from their young players as their players have learned from them this summer.
The World Series in Las Cruces will feature 40 to 50 teams from all over the west region of USSSA.
The Rolling Thunder will take Paige Barton, Carley Beck, Lauryn Begay, Mia Decker, Natalie Dickson, Harli Garcia, Kaylee Martinez, Evany Morals, Ulysse Morales, Mackenize Ned, Jade Skaggs and Madison Trotter to the World Series.
"It is absolutely fun and exciting to see these girls all come together after four years. They have formed such a tight bond," Travis Ned said. "We hope to continue to grow and create a team for Farmington High to be unstoppable in the future."John Livingston can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.