After conquering the state, the Rockers are ready to take on the nation.
The Rockers, a 10-and-under softball team that has won two state tournaments, will compete in a national tournament today through Sunday in Basehor, Kan.
To help the Rockers get ready, coach Tony Fuller set the pitching machine for a higher speed to practice hitting faster pitches. This week the pitchers are expected to throw 50-54 mph.
“Two girls on our team went to nationals last year, and they said it was really fun,” Lauren Fuller said. “They said there will be harder teams and more competition and there will be opening ceremonies and games.”
Tony Fuller, who coaches the team with his wife, Sue, said the team’s chances at the national tournament are good because it has performed well at tournaments. The team won its first state championship the weekend of June 25-27 in Hannibal and its second championship July 9-11.
With that experience, Tony Fuller expects the Rockers to do well this week.
“There will probably be about 30 teams from across the country, so if we can go there and win three or four games, I will be satisfied with that,” he said.
In September, the Rockers won the Hidden Valley Classic tournament, a national qualifier, in Blue Springs. “We did pretty well our first time out with three practices under our belt, so we knew we had a good thing going here,” Sue Fuller said. “Then we basically took off until we started some clinics and practices in late January.”
Lauren Fuller, 10, was part of the team when her parents took over as coaches. The Fullers said the team gives the family a lot to talk about at home. Sue Fuller coaches first base and Tony Fuller coaches third and makes up the lineup.
“My husband and I have always enjoyed softball,” Sue Fuller said. “He used to coach my women’s team and my daughter enjoys playing.”
Alex Elkins, 9, of Hallsville, said she looks forward to games and practices.
“It’s awesome because we have a good team,” Alex said. “Well, we just have a lot of sportsmanship and we hit the ball and we have good fielding.”
Sue Fuller said the team works on sportsmanship throughout the season because the girls are from several cities and did not know one another before joining the team.
“We do a lot of things to bring the girls together, to help the cohesiveness,” Sue Fuller said. “We try to have sleepover parties and skating parties where they can get to know each other a little better.”
Sue Fuller said the girls have improved a lot in the past year.
“They have learned a lot, and they have worked really hard,” she said. “That is what is so exciting about them winning the state tournament because we know how hard they have worked.”
After the season, eight of the 12 players will move up to an older age division.
“We’ll quit, have our end of the year party and have tryouts again in August,” Sue Fuller said. “This time a lot of our players have to move up to the 12-and-under division. My husband and I plan to coach, and of course we hope to keep the nucleus of the team.”