OAKHURST — “I knew that, in order for Yosemite and Minarets High Schools to each have a better softball program to compete in their leagues, someone needed to step up and build a travel ball club in the mountains,” says softball coach Tami Franke. That’s exactly what she did.
Tami requested the help of fellow-former YHS Varsity coach Suzette Combs to achieve the goal and, together, they are building a strong 14u team such as the Valley has never seen. They are winning and earning the respect of teams that have played together for years, Tami says, and the Blaze placed third in their first two tournaments after only five practices.
“Current YHS players Lynette Combs and Katie Thompson are providing hitting, fielding and catching lessons to Blaze players,” says Tami. ‘This is also Lynette’s senior project. Katie Thompson and Courtney Herrera plan to help as their senior project when this team plays in the fall.”
The Blaze coaches are hoping they can find high caliber coaches to join them, so they can structure 12u, 14u, 16u and 18u teams in the future. Anyone interested in coaching or playing can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tami wants to highlight six talented Blaze players heading to high school who will likely play for local mountain schools.
“Rive Prater is a gifted pitcher who consistently throws a fast ball, back-flip change up and a peel drop,” Tami notes. “She hardly misses her target whether it’s outside, inside, high or low and this has the Valley teams talking. She’s also a great shortstop.”
Tami says that after Rive’s first tournament everyone wanted to know her story and, at the second tournament, she was hand-selected by 18u California Grapettes team based out of Modesto to attend their try-out.
“They were impressed with Rive’s skills, especially for her young age. She’s also a left-handed hitter, who slaps, drag bunts and has power to hit. Rive is exactly what YHS needs in a pitcher.”
Madison Gipson can play anywhere you ask her, says the coach. “She’s fierce at 2nd, short, or anywhere she goes. She has a natural ability to stay low, field the ball with soft hands and stay calm through the whole process.” Tami adds that Madison is a consistent heavy hitter in the gaps bringing home the runs, and with the chance to be a great utility player for the YHS program.
“Alissa Ahlm just moved here from Las Vegas and is black belt in martial arts,” explains Tami. “She has never played softball before, but Alissa’s athletic ability is helping her to pick up the sport quickly. She is passionate about being the best player she can be and has asked the coaches for extra instruction on non-practice days.” Tami believes Melissa will do great things for YHS softball.
Emily Meyer is also new to the game, and learning all the basic fundamentals, says Tami, referring to Emily as “a perfectionist and practices over and over.”
Tami says Emily is one of the fastest runners on the team and the coaches try to put her in to run any opportunity they get.
“She has no fear when it comes to running and sliding. There are many players that earn scholarships to just run bases for colleges and while she is perfecting other softball fundamentals Emily is running her way to victory.”
Selena Walter is a freshman at Minarets and, while she hasn’t played on the high school team, Tami says Selena is a “beast at 3rd base” with no fear of the ball.
“She dives, slides and does whatever she can to stop that ball from getting by her. She also is a great catcher. Just like Madison she is a heavy hitter and is always swinging for the fences. If Selena decides to play, Minarets will have a hidden gem waiting to be discovered in their program.”
Claire Lewis will be attending Mariposa High next year.
“We pulled Claire out of her comfort zone to teach her 1st base. She stepped up for our team and got the job done. She was a little shaky the first tournament when nerves set in, but our second tournament she had some great digs, stretches and hard hit grounders that she made.” Tami points out that Claire has a great listening ability and says she will be a great asset to their already powerful program.
For more information email Tami Franke at email@example.com.