Saturday Aug 08 2009
Showcasing local softball talent
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
College recruiters gather at Maidu Park for annual event
With the excitement of a major late-summer softball tournament swirling around Roseville’s Maidu Park this weekend, All American Softball has once again added a big boost to the event with its summer college showcase. As many as 50 colleges were represented as some of Northern California’s top softball players put their talents on display in hopes of earning a scholarship. The Mizuno All American Summer College Preview is one of the best out there according to San Francisco State head coach Christina Byrne. “It is unlike any other showcase in that it is smaller and I feel very beneficial for both college coaches and prospective student-athletes,” Byrne said. “It is efficiently run and with only one field being used, I get the opportunity to watch every athlete on both offense and defense as opposed to other showcases that have hundreds of players and are at multiple fields so you have to decide what you want to see, either offense or defense, either catching or outfield.” Byrne and the Gators really cashed in on the showcase last summer, as she recruited four members of her incoming freshman class from the same Sacramento-based club team, the Mizuno All American squad. The quartet made a strong impression in both the tournament and the showcase one year ago. “We are really looking forward to having Heather (Jensen), Kelly (Rose), Summer (Powell), and Cara (Spence) be a part of the Gator family this coming year and I did get the chance to see several of them as they participated last year in this showcase,” Byrne said. Kelly Jackson of All American Softball runs the showcase, and sees herself as someone who can help bridge the gap created by the tight recruiting restrictions places on colleges these days. “We want to help each athlete get to the right place for them,” Jackson said. “Coaches tell us what they want and we can help them find a fit. We have had colleges see girls at our showcase events and sign them on the spot. It does happen. Many of the girls who were out here last year were invited to camps and visits as a result of what they showed here.” One of the tools Jackson provides is a packet of information that puts each participant’s picture and background data in front of all colleges that attend. “This is their opportunity to be seen, and they will be seen,” Jackson said. “We want the recruiters to see their solid mechanics and technique. For many this will be the first time a school has seen them.” “Kelly and her staff always make the college coaches feel welcome and the organization of the event is great as well,” Byrne said. “The paperwork is there for us so we know which players are in the showcase and what numbers they are and what year in school they are and what positions they play, she also has additional information regarding each player.” Jackson puts these events on two times each year and feels that they are a great tool for younger players to get over the nervousness of being watched and evaluated. Even some girls heading into the eighth grade attended this showcase to give colleges a first look. “The showcase comes at a great time in the recruiting process because I have watched a lot of games this summer and now I get a chance to see the players in more of a practice and skills setting,” Byrne said. “At this point in time, I am still finishing up with my 2010 class and haven’t really gotten the chance to look at 2011s or 2012s but this showcase also allows me to do this along with seeing the 2010s.” The Mizuno Summer Championship tournament resumes Saturday morning and continues through the championship game Sunday afternoon.