SNEEDVILLE — Members of the C4 Force 12u girls softball team from Hancock, Grainger and Hawkins counties met on their Sneedville field for practice Monday afternoon, and took time out to talk about their 2019 season, look ahead to 2020, and pose for a photo under the banner of their new corporate sponsor.
Assistant Coaches Chris “Slick” Seal, Tracy Odom and Casey Seal were unanimous in praising their team’s hard work and efforts after playing in more than 82 games so far this year.
“We have travelled almost every other weekend to play in tournaments since January,” Head Coach Jason Collins said. “We will be playing in a Halloween tournament this upcoming weekend.”
The team includes eight young ladies from Hancock, three from Grainger and one from Hawkins County.
“We have played from Johnson City to Bristol to Kingsport to Knoxville and other places,” Collins said. “We’ve put in a lot of miles!”
As of Monday, the girls 2019 record stood at 52-30.
In tournament play, the girls have won one event, finished in second place twice, in third place four times, and in fourth place five times, Collins said.
“They are ‘young 12’s’ this year but next year will move up to the ‘older 12’ bracket, and I think that with all of their spirit and experience, I’m expecting them to really step up next year and show how much they have grown,” Collins said. “They have a bright future. They play ball well, they get along well, they work together, and there’s no drama.”
What team members thinkTeam member Kenna Bailey, who handles center field, said she has enjoyed the season.
“It feels good when we win,” she said. “After games, we usually celebrate and its just a lot of fun playing ball with my friends.”
“Getting to play with my friends was important to me, too,” said Maelee Collins, who pitches and plays second, third and outfield.
Cylee Seal, who is catcher, pitcher and plays third base, said “just being able to play” was a highlight of her year. “I’m definitely playing next year.”
Pitcher and catcher Calyn Seal echoed the enthusiasm of her teammates.
“Just getting to play with and be with my friends and having fun,” she said.
Shortstop Myla Russell said she appreciated all of the support she got from everyone.
“Yeah, I’m definitely playing next year,” she said.
“I love to bat, I enjoy that,” said Allie Trent, who plays second base.
“What stands out this year is that I got better when I was batting,” said McKenna Kee, who plays third and catcher.
Right fielder Kylie Jarnigan said that the year was great because she got to play with her friends and teammates.
“It was a really good year,” she said.
“We had a good time, it was a lot of fun,” said Savanna Odom, whom plays first base. “We did a lot of traveling.”
Liz Bowlin, who plays second and first, said she also enjoyed the team’s road trips.
“I just like being a part of the team with my friends,” she said.
Left fielder and right fielder Rylee Coffman agreed.
“It was a good year,” she said. “We worked hard together and we got better together.”
“I like my team, we play good together,” said shortstop Maddie Jo Short.
Kylee Bailey, who plays left field and right field, said she also enjoyed traveling and spending time with her friends.
All of the girls enthusiastically said they are planning to be members of the team next year.
Coaches are wowed“We moved up from 10u last year, and the girls really impressed us by moving up to 12u,” said assistant coach Chris Seal. “They had a really good season this year and adjusted well to the size of the ball, going from a 35-foot mound to a 40-foot mound, the pitching speed, they adjusted well overall I think. I am very proud of them and the hard work they have put in. We’re looking forward to 2020. We’ll be more seasoned next year and I think we’ll have a whole lot better season.”
With 100% of the girls’ committed to returning for another year, Seal believes that will fire up their enthusiasm as a team.
“They really do play well and get along great as a team,” he said. “They are together. One of our goals is to carry this enthusiasm and experience with them into high school. We’ll get every one of them in two years in high school, so we’re hoping for some great things to happen for them. We will be a force to be reckoned with then!”
Seal said that as the team matures, there are showcases around the region and even a World Series that they could potentially qualify for.
“That’s always a great place to let their talents shine for the college scouts who attend those games,” Seal said. “That was our goal all along, to help the girls come together, to be a team and to give them something fun and meaningful to get involved with.”
Seal said that he is personally, “very, very proud” of the team and what they have accomplished together.
Assistant Coach Casey Seal said that 2019 has been a definite “growing experience” for the girls.
“They transitioned from 10u up to 12u, and we have seen their maturity come alive with the games, within each other, and their skill levels have grown with every game we played,” she said.
For the 2020 season, Seal said, she would like to see the girls further hone in on their own unique skill sets.
“I want them to find their individual confidence and to share that with the younger generation that’s coming behind us,” she said.
The team has become “one big softball family”, she said.
“This is how we spend our Saturdays,” Seal said. “This is our family. It’s like a big family reunion every other Saturday, and its great. It’s what we love.”