For the Lady Texans from Amarillo, coming to Lawrence for the 14-U National B-division tournament meant that they gained a player.
Kirstie Patterson had played with the Lady Texans before moving to Olathe last December.
"That was an ugly week," Lady Texans coach Leland Long said of the team's play after Patterson left. Leland Long said Patterson contributed much to the team as a pitcher, back-up shortstop and two-hole hitter.
After Patterson moved, she kept in touch with Long's daughter, Shelbi, and had told Shelbi she might be able to play with the team when it came to Lawrence. Patterson played with the Kansas City Ice this summer, but the Ice did not qualify to play in the tournament at Clinton Lake Sports Complex and Youth Sports Inc. fields this week.
"When I heard her team was not playing in the tournament, I was begging her to play," Leland Long said.
Even though she liked her new team, Patterson was excited to rejoin with her old friends and teammates. It was the first time Patterson had seen her teammates since moving. The Texans come from eight different high schools around Amarillo, Texas, and range in age from 11 to 15.
Although the Lady Texans were playing in the 14-U tournament, some members of the team, such as Jo Carter, are much younger. Despite being the youngest player on the team, the 11-year-old Carter threw a no-hitter earlier this summer against a 14-U team. Her catcher, Shelbi Long, is also 11 years old.
To pay for the tournament, the Lady Texans used some fund-raising efforts up to the moment they left July 17. While some teammates hit the road to Lawrence, some team members hosted a last-minute garage sale to raise money to cover expenses to come to nationals.
Players on the Lawrence Hummers looked forward to last week's American Fastpitch Association National "B" Tournament and the chance of playing teams from states as far as Washington and Minnesota. They didn't have to look far to find the team they wanted to play most -- the rival Lawrence Phenix-Epperson team.
"We know the most girls on that team," said Hummers player Marla Mesker.
The Hummers were most excited about the American Fastpitch Assn. National tournament being in Lawrence because of the chance they might play the Phenix.
"It's home turf here," said Hummers player Alyssa Goldon.
The Phenix organization and the Hummers were both divided with a mix of players from Free State High School and Lawrence High School, which contributed to the contention.
"We're the outcasts because we are the only fast-pitch team our age that isn't a Phenix team," Hummers player Dequesne Sprow said.
The Hummers went 2-6 in a combined 16-U/18-U Shawnee County Girls Assn. league and played at a higher level in tournaments. The team has taken only one weekend off since Memorial Day, playing tournaments in cities as far away as Columbia, Mo. These tournaments have familiarized the Hummers with what kind of teams they can expect to see throughout the tournament.
Goldon said they have already played a lot of the teams at Nationals. But they have not yet played the team they anticipate the most -- the Phenix. Last year, the Hummers beat the Phenix-Epperson team. The Hummers beat Phenix-T earlier this season.
"I hope we get to play them. It would be a good game," Hummers player Diane Riat said.
It's all for Krystal
Since the 14-U Phenix-Rusk team lost team member Krystal Bateson last month, they have curtailed their play in tournaments, but they expected to be as competitive as ever in the 14-U American Fastpitch Assn. National tournament last week.
If anything, losing Bateson had made winning the games more important to the team.
The Phenix had already qualified for nationals with the help of Bateson, and her teammate Kylie Waite said Bateson had been looking forward to playing in front of her friends and family at the national tournament in Lawrence.
"She was really psyched," Waite said.
During the opening ceremonies July 18 at the Lied Center, the team announced it was dedicating the tournament to Bateson after she died at a tournament in Winfield last month.
Although Phenix-Rusk had not traveled to play in tournaments since the Winfield tournament, the Phenix played in a Lawrence national-qualifier tournament in June, one week later. The team went to Basehor on July 10 to play in another national-qualifier tournament at the Field of Dreams complex to prepare for nationals.
The team did not play as well as they had expected, but Cassie Potter said the team got the rust out of its system and expected to do well at nationals.
"There isn't one thing you could say about any of our players that isn't good," Waite said.
For many of the members of the Phenix-Rusk team, it wasn't their first trip to nationals. Waite and Potter both played on Todd Wellborn's 10-U B team that won the national tournament in 2001. The two girls have been playing together for seven years.
Many of the girls' friends came to watch the Phenix-Rusk play earlier in the season, and the team expected many fans to return to cheer them on. Waite and Potter admitted that the tournament being in Lawrence made it more important to the team than the others.
"Although it is not as bad as it was the first time we played in Lawrence, it is still going to be really emotional," Potter said.