Although summer hasn't officially arrived, the summer travel ball season is scheduled to get under way this weekend for at least one local softball team.
The Dirty Diamonds, an 18-U fast pitch team that is coached by Henry Canady, Fred Canady and Louis Holcomb, will trek to Longview to take part in the Ark-La-Tex Wounded Warrior Challenge, which will be played at the Lear Park Complex.
Games will take place on Saturday and Sunday.
The majority of the team — Hannah Holcomb, Dashia Canady, Nicole Robinson, Taylor Whitaker, Abby Hicks, Jordane Mallard and TaSheena Canady — all played varsity softball for Jacksonville High last season.
Henry Canady said that summer travel ball will enable the young ladies to improve as individuals as well as a team.
“We wanted something constructive for the girls to be involved in during the summer,” Canady said. “Softball is one of those sports where the more reps you get, usually the better you become, whether you are a pitcher, an infielder or play in the outfield. That also applies to hitting, too.”
Henry Canady said that travel ball for 16-18-year-old girls takes a coordinated effort on several fronts as many of the players have summer jobs that have to be planned around.
Of course it takes funding to pay for travel, entry fees, meals, etc. and Canady said that local residents and businesses have been extremely generous in helping the team out in that department.
“Our sponsors, Nick and Kelley Peacock; Quantum Resources Management, LLC and CME have made it possible for us to be able to travel to five or six tournament this summer,” Henry Canady said. “Their support and belief in the youth of Jacksonville is appreciated.”
Soon the Diamonds, who also have players from Frankston, Henderson and Longview on the roster, will play in a showcase tournament in Shreveport, La. And Canady said that the team is excited about that.
“I understand that there will be several college and junior college softball coaches at that tournament,” he said. “Getting our girls exposure is important, too, and these showcase tournaments will have them playing in front of college coaches, so there is an opportunity there. I think they (players) are really eager to go over there and play well.”
Good luck and safe travels to the Dirty Diamonds!