For nearly 60 14-and-under softball teams, World Series dreams will be decided this week in Lawrence.
After a day of skills competition and an opening ceremony on the Kansas University campus, 56 teams from as far as South Dakota, Texas and Illinois will begin contesting the 2014 USSSA Fastpitch World Series at the Clinton Sports Complex. Four local teams are also in the field, including host club Lawrence Phenix.
Pool play will continue into Wednesday before elimination games begin Thursday. Other attractions will include a pool party for the players at the Lawrence Aquatic Center the night before the elimination round.
“It’s fun. When you’re from the Kansas City area, you play the same teams over and over again,” Phenix coach and club vice president Karl Ploeger said. “It’s nice to come to a tournament like this and have teams from really all over the Midwest.”
Ploeger’s Phenix team will play teams from Topeka, St. Louis and Chicago to start the tournament, and he said girls from each team plan to exchange gift bags with their visitors.
Lawrence will be teeming with softball players, coaches and parents all week. Each team has more than a dozen girls, many with family in tow.
Ploeger said parents helped organize Monday’s skills competition.
“Here there are girls who can throw 50, 60 mph even at ages 13 and 14,” Ploeger said. “They’re just great athletes.”