Twisters roaring through softball competition
     2013-07-03      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
When it comes to traveling teams, the Twisters 16-under fast-pitch girls’ softball team are not only a force in the region but right now are the team to beat in the country.

The Twisters have blown through their competition to the tune of a 37-game winning streak and a stunning 57-5 overall record with 28 shutouts. Those numbers have added up to claiming the No. 1 spot the past two weeks in the USSSA B Division’s national ratings.

They improved their prowess in the USSSA B Division over the weekend by winning the Firecracker Tournament in Arvada, Colo., sweeping through their six opponents by a cumulative 49-9.
The Twisters have now won six straight tournaments and have won seven of their 10 tourneys in which they played since starting their season in March.

Coach Dan Fox, who is assisted by his dad Terry, said Monday that the Twisters average about 9.4 runs per game and allowing just 1.2 runs per outing.
“We’re on a roll,” Fox said. “We’re making some noise.”
And is talking about that winning streak a superstition? If so, it is all for the positive.

“They do talk about it but it’s all in good, with no swag or cockiness,” Fox said.

Although the team is based in Torrington, the roster comprises mostly of players from Scotts Bluff and Goshen Counties. Team members from Gering are Mikayla Butler, Jessica Rogers and Isabel Thompson. From Scottsbluff are Barbara Calvert, Loudres Ramirez, and sisters Alex and Mikka Salazar.

Katie Howell is from Morrill, Sofia Fox is from Alliance, and the rest of the roster is composed of Wyomingites: Cassandra Bustillos and Raele Riley of Torrington, Shalee Rickard of Lingle-Fort Laramie and Marisa Santos of Gillette.

“I think we’re very balanced,” Fox said. “Overall, we are a very powerful team with our sticks. One through nine, there’s not a weak batter. We actually have good batters who come off the bench and step up. Like Mikka Salazar, she is one of our first people who comes off the bench and she has some good numbers.

“Our one-through-nine hitting is very powerful. About eight of those girls have hit a home run so they have a lot of strength and the ability to put the ball in play. We have very good team speed; we’re very fast around the bases.”

Fox said Rogers is batting about .580 with a team-leading 13 home runs, while Thompson is hitting around the .600 level. As a team, the Twisters are averaging just less than one home run per game.
Butler, a transfer from Yoder-Southeast to Gering, and Rickard are the Twisters’ primary pitchers.

“Our pitching is good and probably one of the best strengths,” Fox said. “Our girls have pride in not making errors when our pitching is doing well. It’s very balanced all over the place, and there’s not really a weak spot anywhere on this team.”
Despite outscoring their Saturday opponents 27-2, Fox said the Twisters had a little trouble in getting up for the games in which they had previously defeated their opponents.

“We came out on Saturday against some teams they have beaten before, so the girls were playing a little flat,” Fox said. “I don’t know that it was the No. 1 ranking but more than the teams they were playing. They still played good games though.”
On Sunday, the Twisters began bracket play with a 10-0 win over the Cheyenne Extreme, but then they had to battle tooth and nail to fend off the Colorado-based Aztecas, 8-6.

The Twisters were tied with Aztecas twice and committed four errors in the game but overcame the adversity for an 8-6 victory in the semifinal contest.

“We pride ourselves on defense, and of the six errors we had Saturday and Sunday, we had four errors in that game on the defensive side of the ball,” Fox said of the win over Aztecas. “But we all came together, and when something falls apart, the girls really step up and take over.”

The Twisters finished the tournament with a 4-1 win over Team United.
Fox said the run of 37 consecutive victories does not create a pressure-packed situation for the Twisters. Instead, it is nothing short of a motivating factor, even to the point where they are willing to put in extra work to maintain their success.

“They do talk about it, but they also talk about how to keep it going,” Fox said. “After the third game they played on Saturday, the girls came up to me and said that they were not happy with their performance overall.
“We won one game 11-1 and another 9-0, but they still felt like they were pretty flat and they wanted to have a practice that night, so we had a 45-minute practice Saturday night.

“Their expectations are high and they do talk about the streak and are pretty humble about it and pretty proud of it, but they also want to do everything they can to keep that streak going.”
If Fox said he has one problem with the team, it may be in keeping the Twisters from working too hard.

“They don’t just sit around and do nothing. (Monday morning,) they were all out at 7 o’clock and practicing right after a tournament,” Fox said.
“As a coach you want to give them some time to rest, but they are so motivated right now to do well, and everybody’s talking about the streak and winning six tournament championships in a row and beating really good teams,” he said. “They’re doing a good job of keeping their composure pretty well.”

The Twisters will be in the USSSA Nebraska State Tournament, Friday through Sunday in Hastings, and Colorado-Wyoming Mountain States Championships on July 12-14.
“They don’t merely want to put on a good show the next couple of weeks,” Fox said.

The Twisters have already qualified for two national tournaments: the USSSA National Tournament in July 22-28 in Tulsa, Okla., and the ASA Northern Nationals on July 31-Aug. 4 in Pekin, Ill.

“These tournaments are more like a pride thing,” Fox said. “We feel like we’re the best team in Nebraska and one of the best in Colorado/Wyoming, so now we just want to win them and earn it.”

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