Twisters ready to take regional success to national level
     2013-07-25      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Courtesy photo - Members of the Twisters team after winning the ASA Nebraska State Tournament for Division B (16-under) teams at the Bill Smith Softball Complex in Hastings. Team members are: (front row, from left) Raele Riley, Sofia Fox, Cassandra Bustillos, Mikka Salazar, Mikayla Butler, Marisa Santos, Katie Howell, (second row) Jessica Rogers, Bethany Sandlian, Lourdes Ramirez-Monge, Shaylee Rickard, Isabel Thompson, Barbara Calvert and Alex Salazar. Coaches on the back row are Matt Schubarth, Dan Fox, Terry Fox, Lance Rogers, Mike Butler, Gary Rickard and Mike Calvert. Not pictured is coach Kevin Thompson. 
Since the Twisters 16-under fast-pitch softball team came together in the spring, it has won nine of the 12 tournaments in which it has played.

And now the Twisters, winners of 47 straight games since May 12, are about to face their toughest opposition over the next two-and-a-half weeks.

Starting Thursday, the Twisters will begin pool play in the USSSA World Series Monday in Tulsa, Okla., which is July 24-28.

“I think we can really see this as being able to call it a dream season,” Twisters coach Dan Fox said. “We thought we had a really good team and we would win some tournaments, but not a 47-game win streak.”

While the winning streak has survived several tests of late, including in the Twisters’ sweeping through the ASA Nebraska State Tournament in Hastings on July 6-7 and the USSSA Mountain States Tournament in Loveland, Colo., on July 13-14.

“But we’ve been telling them that the winning streak is kind of over now (as far as maintaining it and keeping it as a priority goal), and we need to start something different,” Fox said.

The Twisters are based in Torrington but have a roster that consists of players from throughout the Wyo-braska region, hence the reason they could compete in two different state tournaments.

The Twisters’ 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, Shaylee Rickard of Lingle-Fort Laramie and Marisa Santos of Gillette.

“After state last week, we gave the girls a couple days off to rest and do a little fundraising,” Fox said. “We were back at it Wednesday and Thursday just kind of getting back into the swing of things, then we took Friday off, got back at it Saturday and Sunday and then got ready for our travel on Tuesday at 5 a.m.

“I think the girls are kind of in awe, and they’ve just been talking about going to the World Series and going there and shining. I think they will be ready to play this week.”

In the USSSA World Series, the Twisters will play in Pool I of 11 four-team pools. Their first game is Thursday at 3:45 p.m. against the Tulsa Stealth. On Friday, the Twisters will take on the Lightning-Storm of Topeka, Kan., at 9 a.m., and then turn right around at 10:45 a.m. and play the Missouri Smash of Joplin.

“You always wish you kind of know who they’ve played, and it helps when you line up your pitching how we need to,” Fox said. “We’re going to take every team like they are tough. We know that the Missouri Smash, on paper, looks like a pretty tough team. We’re just going to go play and know we can’t take any teams lightly.”

All teams will then play in a double-elimination bracket beginning Friday afternoon. First- and second-place teams from each pool will receive byes into second-round games Friday at 5:30 or 7:30 p.m.; third- and fourth-place pool teams will start bracket play at 3:30 p.m.

Action continues through Saturday, with finals set for Sunday afternoon.

After they complete play in Tulsa, the Twisters will stay on the road, spending a couple days in St. Louis before heading to Pekin, Ill., for the ASA Northern Nationals on July 31-Aug. 4.

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