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12u softball prepares for state, nationals

When Heather Overland is asked about the girls that make up this season’s 12 and under softball team, she doesn’t hesitate to give them credit for their hard work.
With the high ambitions the team has for the upcoming state and national tournaments, that hard work will hopefully pay off.
Overland has been coaching in Mobridge since she was in college, although she wasn’t always the coach of the 12 and under softball team here. She started by helping with tee ball and field maintenance. Four years ago, Overland took on coaching the 12 and under Mobridge Tigers softball team.
When asked what drew her to the team, Overland said her kids played a large roll in her coaching position. Her husband, Andrew, coaches the Tigers alongside her as well.
“I’ve got an older daughter who’s sixteen who plays on a combined team with Selby. She was playing when I started,” she said. “Now we have twins that play on this team.”
The team has been competing at tournaments as a 12 and under team but has played up in the 14 and under division. The team also has girls 10 and under playing with them.
“We go to bigger cities like Sioux Falls and Watertown and play against teams that have hand-picked teams,” Overland said. Smaller towns can’t always afford to have try-outs for activities like softball, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Dedication to a sport and team can win out over skill in some games. “We just have a group of really good kids that work hard every time we practice.”
The Tigers played Herreid on Tuesday night, winning both the opener and nightcap 7-6. The teams will meet again at the state tournament this weekend.
The Girl’s Slowpitch State Tournament is held in Sioux Falls on July 20 and 21. The Mobridge team has entered the tournament and still has plenty of work ahead of them to get to the championship game.
“State is a bigger tournament than we’ve seen this year so far,” Overland said. “There can be 20 teams in your division. It’s a lot of games, but it’s a lot of fun though.”
The state tournament has been a chance for the Tigers to show their ability to persevere in past years. Overland recalled the 2018 state tournament when the Tigers played as one of the youngest teams in the 12u division.
“We got fourth place and we came back in three games from being down in the last inning,” she said. “We came back and beat teams that the ump thought had it in the bag. But we came back and beat them.”
In the 2017 tournament, the 10 and under team also started off in the bottom of the bracket. But the girls were able to make a comeback and win their division that year.
Overland is excited to see how the team takes on a challenge the Tigers have never faced before.
“We’re going to the national tournament in Sioux Falls and trying our hand at that,” she said. “We’ve never done it. I’ve never coached at it. I’ve never gone to it as a player. But we’re just excited about doing it.”
The Girl’s Slowpitch Nationals tournament is held Friday, August 2, 3 and 4. Teams that enter tournaments like state and nationals pay a fee in order to play.
The Tigers are heading to state with the goal of winning the championship.
“Our goal is to win state this year. We have a good chance to do that,” Overland said. “They don’t really show their nerves until they get to the game. We have a lot of fun.”
Overland is right about fun being part of the team’s goals. Kallie Good Shield said her goals weren’t so much about being the best as they were about the experience.
“I just want to play really good and have a good time,” Good Shield said.
Grace, Overland’s daughter, has a different reason for being on the team.
“My parents are coaching us,” she said with a laugh. “We’re really active. We’re in multiple sports,” she said, referring to herself and her twin sister, Sophia. Some of the girls play softball in the summer to help keep them active and fit for other sports during the school year.
Overland credits the supporters of the team, such as the Mobridge Youth Organization and donors, parents, and assistant coaches for the Tiger’s opportunity to participate in bigger tournaments like nationals. Entry fees for tournaments are paid by MYO. Travel, food and hotel expenses are paid by parents of the athletes.
“We’re really blessed to have such a good group of kids and parents that are willing to take their kids.”