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Archive for Monday, July 28, 2003

Stanclift making most of summer schedule

Free State softball player gaining exposure through national tournaments

July 28, 2003

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For the second straight week, Jamie Stanclift will show her stuff for softball coaches and scouts.

She still isn't used to the idea.

Stanclift, entering her junior year at Free State High, played in a nerve-racking, 91-team college-exposure tournament last week in Florida with her summer team, the K.C. Fusion.

"It's just a big exposure camp, and there's college coaches there watching you," she said. "And they don't even try to be discreet about it. They're just sitting on a picnic table behind the backstop."

She'll go through that scenario again this week at the Amateur Softball Assn. 18-and-under National Tournament in Garland, Texas. Opening ceremonies are today, and pool play starts Tuesday morning for the 142-team tournament.

Stanclift, a three-sport standout for the Firebirds and two-year softball starter, has been amazed at the difficult transition from Kansas City-area softball to playing nationally.

"It's been a big step up, even from last year when I played 16A," she said. "In some tournaments, you're playing with girls that have come back after playing their first year of college softball."

Every week doesn't consist of a trip out of state, though. The Fusion -- coached by her dad, Bob Stanclift, who coached at Kansas University 1977-87 -- play in a K.C.-metro league, but travel for big tournaments.

The elder Stanclift said the Fusion, mostly made up of Sunflower League players, can compete with most of the teams they face, but do have trouble offensively.

"We're good defensively, but we've struggled scoring runs," he said.

Jamie has been an example of that.

"Oh my gosh," she said. "I just got out of the worst hitting slump of my life."

After a Fourth of July tournament, Jamie Stanclift cried out of frustration until her dad told her to relax and think about her performance. Turns out she had a hit in all but two games, an excellent ratio.

Her dad just had to reinforce that softball is a game of failure.

"You just have to understand that you're not going to get a hit in every game," she said.

The other adjustment has been playing third base. A shortstop during the high school season, Jamie Stanclift was forced to learn the position quickly this summer, which has been a pleasant surprise.

"At first it freaked me out," she said. "I didn't like being so close, and I could never tell if the ball was coming to me or not. But I think I'm OK at it now. I might be better there than at shortstop because I'm not quick enough to make plays at short."

After all that, the ASA Tournament might seem like the proper conclusion to a hectic summer. The Fusion left Sunday for Garland, where they'll practice and then focus on softball -- and only softball.

Jamie Stanclift doesn't mind.

"I've never flown anywhere just to play softball before," she said. "So that was weird. Now we're going to Texas. I mean, I'm going to be down there a week and I'm not going to do anything but play softball."

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