Named after the longtime former Georgia ASA and Region 4 Junior Olympic commissioner, who died of breast cancer Feb. 12, the tournament features 33 teams from the 16-and-under and 18-and-under age groups, playing in different age brackets. Teams are vying for one berth from each age group into the ASA/USA national championship.
Many of the Georgia teams participating this weekend have players with local ties to the area, and the games are expected to showcase the players’ talents.
It’s a cause that Kay’s husband, Guy, holds near and dear, and one he wanted to continue.
“Katie had been fighting breast cancer since 1991,” Guy Kay said. “She was my wife for 41 years before she passed, and her birthday is June 15, so she would have been 64 years old (today). She and I have been involved with softball for 40 years, and she’s been the coordinator of this tournament for just as long, it seemed.
“I knew that, even though she’s not here, she would want me to continue running this tournament, so that’s what I decided to do. There are 13 18-and-under teams, and 20 in the 16U tournament, and both should be very competitive.”
Games in the double-elimination tournaments will begin at 6:30 p.m. tonight and continue all day Saturday, starting at 8:30 a.m. Sunday’s action begins at 9 a.m., with the final game scheduled for 2:15 p.m., and, if necessary, another contest at 4 p.m.
“They will be very competitive tournaments, and the semifinals and finals on Sunday will be really exciting,” Kay said. “These are the age groups that lead into recruiting for college, and most of these girls will get scholarships. There’s great competition level in the ASA, and with a berth to the national tournament on the line, these girls are going to play hard.”
There will be several Cobb County players participating in the 16U tournament.
The 95 Georgia Force roster includes Kennesaw Mountain’s Kayla Aarons and Savannah Hurst-Swingle, Walker’s Rebecca Hampton and Katlin Seger, Allatoona’s Morgan Nesbit and Nicole Williams and North Cobb’s Olivia Mould and Cierra Sandoval.
Larry Reed’s Georgia Impact 16U squad has North Cobb Christian’s Madison Luck and Kell’s Hannah McKinley. North Cobb’s Rachel Bartoe headlines a list of three county players on Jeff Caldwell’s Georgia Elite 16U team, along with Walton’s Autumn Parrish and Halie Sorrow.
The ’96 Worth Cobras have a strong presence of players from east Cobb, including Pope’s Megan Metzinger and Lassiter’s Katie Speed, Emily Syvarth and Cammie Speed.
Cliff Nelson’s GA Titans 96 team, which is based out of Marietta, is comprised primarily by players from Cobb County. Nine of the 12 players on the roster have local ties — Walton’s Emily Andriano and Erika Mast, Wheeler’s Anna Awald and Kelly Fitzgerald, Sprayberry’s Katie Tokos, McEachern’s Khayla Green, Allatoona’s Brittany Iginito, North Cobb’s Sarah Merced and Mount Paran Christian’s Caroline Reilly.
“I think we have a good chance to earn that berth this week,” Nelson said. “When this team plays its best softball, they are as good as any team I’ve seen.”