The East Cobb Bullets were the first to claim the prize, capturing the Amateur Softball Association 18-and-under Gold Division national title at Lost Mountain Park in Powder Springs.
Since then, the Atlanta Vipers organization has won three national championships of their own.
As the summer season winds down, title aspirations are heating up, and the focus once again shifts to crowning ASA and Premier Girls’ Fastpitch champions.
Four tournaments —ASA 16U Gold, ASA 18U Gold, 14U Premier and 16U Premier — will crown champions this weekend.
The ASA 18U Gold championship in Oklahoma City ends Saturday. The Vipers (Loveless) team, which includes Hillgrove’s Taylor DeCelles and Kathryn Jackson, is still alive and will play a quarterfinal game today, while the Georgia Knockouts Gold, featuring Kell’s Lanie Angel, Lassiter’s Emily Syvarth and Allatoona’s Casey Lewis, was eliminated early.
The Vipers (Loveless) won the 14U Premier championship in 2012.
The 16U Premier tournament in Huntington Beach, Calif., ends today, and as many as six teams with local ties participated in the event. The Vipers (Palazzo), featuring Lassiter’s Andrea Summey, bowed out early, as did Georgia Impact (Daniels), with Harrison’s Savannah Freeman and Kennesaw Mountain’s Kelli McGrail, and the Bullets (Legere), with Allatoona’s Rachel Legere.
The Vipers (Kates) made a deep run in the consolation bracket before losing.
Georgia Impact (Gibson), with Harrison’s Abby Broome, Lindley Bruce, Pierce Fox, Emily Kachel and Mikenzie Vaughn, as well as Pope’s Quentin Staton, lost in a consolation semifinal.
Premier Girls’ Fastpitch will hold its 18U Premier, 18U and 12U tournaments beginning Saturday, with the championships set for Aug. 2.
The ASA will conduct the remainder of its national tournaments next week, with the finals slated for Aug. 3.
The 18U event will be in Montgomery, Ala., 16U tournament in Salem, Va., 14U tournament in San Diego, 12U tournament in Bloomington, Ind., and 10U tournament in Johnson City, Tenn.
Georgia will have several teams competing at these events, and players from Cobb County could play a big role in the outcome.
“So many kids in Georgia are playing the sport nowadays,” said East Cobb Bullets 18U Gold coach Greg Schnute, whose team will be playing at the Premier event in Huntington Beach, Calif. “Outside of California, I feel like Georgia has caught up to the groups in Texas and Florida, and we’re starting to surpass them. We’re competing against all these teams, and it shows in the capabilities of our teams.”
Local players on Schnute’s team include Pope’s Kelly Barnhill, Kennesaw Mountain’s Malea Bell and Lassiter’s Kelly Sinclair. The Bullets finished third at the SoCal Invitational and second at last week’s Triple Crown Sports/USA Nationals in Georgia.
“We have a really good team,” Schnute said. “We want to go out next week and win the whole thing. It will be a challenge, but the kids are excited. They get along really well. We have outstanding hitting, our defense is strong and we have one of the best pitchers in the U.S. in Barnhill. With those three factors, and the attitudes these girls have of never giving up and playing hard, we have a chance to win.”
The Vipers (Jennings) team, with Hillgrove’s Abby Evans, Lassiter’s Carli Kayler and Harrison teammates Sierra Maddox and Bridgette Rainey, will join Schnute at 18U Premier. Vipers (Jennings) won the ASA 16U title last year.
Georgia Impact (Pauly), which includes Kennesaw Mountain’s Lexi Bates and Allatoona’s Bailey Crawford, is also in the tournament.
Hillgrove’s Abby Akins, Maddie Garner and Rachel Jarvis join Allatoona’s Erika Dunbar as part of the Vipers (Akins) team at the ASA 18U championship. Georgia Fire 18 (Michaud) has Kell’s Taylor Colclasure and Lassiter’s Brianna Michaud competing, while Team Georgia 18U (Jacobs) has Lassiter’s Sally Swan.
The ASA 16U tournament includes North Cobb’s Josi Elder, Casey Page, McKenzie Krause and Taylor Krause on the Georgia Fire (Downs) squad. McEachern’s Khayla Green plays for Georgia Force 97 (Pealor).