The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


July 19, 2013

Jaguars showcasing talent

Annual summer fastpitch tournament returns

After nearly two months, the Ohio Jaguars are coming home.

The mid-July tradition known as the Ohio Jaguars Summer Showcase will kick off Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the JAGS Complex.

“We always look forward to having the tournament here,” tournament director Scott Francis said. “It gives the girls a chance to play at home. They’ve done a lot of traveling.

“The main reason we host it is for the girls. They get to show up and play in front of our community. When you say travel teams, unless they’ve been a part of it, people don’t understand what you’re really talking about. They don’t know that for months these girls have been on the road. Our teams have played in Toledo, Columbus and Pittsburgh. In the past, we went to Texas, Virginia and California to play. It’s a chance to play at home. It’s a big deal for the girls.”

The tournament has become a staple of the summer in Jefferson.

“This is the 14th year for the Jaguars and we’ve had the tournament just about every year,” Francis said.

Twenty-nine teams in five different age groups will descend on Jefferson for the weekend.

“There are not as many teams this year, but that’s the way fastpitch is going,” Francis said. “There are just not as many girls playing. That’s not due to the popularity. I think it’s more due to the economy. People just aren’t able to travel around as much.”

Teams showcasing local talent will include the 10u Ohio Energy and Grand River Styx, the 12u Ohio Energy, the 14u Grand River Styx, the 16u Ohio Energy and at 18u the Ohio Jaguars-Braddock and the Ohio Jaguars-Ettinger.

The talent pool on display will be impressive.

“People go out and watch all-star games,” Francis said. “The games are good because there’s good talent. It’s the same feeling (for travel softball) except it’s at a higher level because the girls have practiced together for so long. The teams are better than all-star teams. The players are better mainly because they’re the ones putting in the extra time.

“When you see them play after practicing together, they’ve gotten better. It is exciting to watch them play together.”

There will be five teams in the 18u age group, nine in the 16u bracket, seven at 14u, and four each in the 10u and 12u age groups. Play will begin with four pool-play games in the 16 and 18u brackets at 5:30 p.m. Friday with four more games in those age brackets at 7. Play will resume at 8 a.m. Saturday in all five age groups. Elimination play will begin at 8 a.m. Sunday with the 10u championship game set for 11 a.m. The 18u championship game is at 12:30 and the title games for the 12u, 14u and 16u groups will be at 2 p.m.

The JAGS Complex is a perfect facility for the event. With five fields, fans can stand just about anywhere in the park and watch several games all at once. Those fields will be among the best the teams have played on all summer.

“I went over to the fields (Wednesday) and in all the years we’ve run the tournament, this is the best they’ve looked,” Francis said. “JAGS put new roofs on all the dugouts and painted them this year. The fields have all been dragged, even though they haven’t been played on for a couple of weeks. The facility looks amazing.

“My daughter (Courtney) started playing there in 1997 and it’s the best it’s looked since then. I’m not sure who’s in charge of making them look like this, but they’ve done an amazing job. I’m glad to see it. The fields deserve that.”

The players aren’t the only all-stars who will be on display. The same could be said for the umpiring crew.

“We get great officials,” Francis said. “Cal Cavalcante (who is the ASA official in charge of bringing in umpires) comes in every year and gives me the list of accomplishments these men and women have. It’s pretty staggering. When states host their state championships, they’re calling Cal to get his guys in there.

“That says a lot for the guys showing up here doing the games for us.”

The tournament would never happen without a boatload of volunteers from the players and their parents down through members of the community with no ties to the Jaguars organization.

“I’m just one of the volunteers who make this thing happen,” Francis said. “We have quite a few people show up, who if they didn’t, the tournament wouldn’t go off. Those people include Pam Forristal, the people at the front gate and the people who help with the fields.

“It seems like we get rain every year. Without those people helping on the fields, we couldn’t play. The tournament doesn’t run itself.”

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

Text Only
  • Maruna headed for Mount

    LeeAnn Maruna never really expected to play collegiate golf. She was so taken aback when the opportunity presented itself, she didn’t know how to respond. After all, the Grand Valley graduate had only been playing the game for a few years.

    July 23, 2014

  • Crate Late Models featured

    The Evergreen Lake Park Campground Crate Late Models, the premier class at Raceway 7, will be featured Friday night as they race for $1,000 to win.

    July 23, 2014

  • Norm He’s the Norm

    In the early part of the 20th century, as golf was taking off in popularity, it was not uncommon for boys to take up the game after becoming caddies.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don A Don McCormack column: The journey is what’s most important

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of weeks, you’ve heard over and over and over how it’s been a half-century since one of Cleveland’s big three professional sports teams have won a championship.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Murdick wins as Big Block Modifieds return

    The BRP Big Block Modifed Tour returned to Raceway 7 with 21 of the region’s fastest Modifieds turning out for the scheduled 35-lap event, the first for the Modifieds at the northeast Ohio speedplant since 2005, an event won by Todd Burley.

    July 21, 2014

  • Dale Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Chances for controlled waterfowl hunting

    Waterfowl hunters are invited to participate in special drawings for controlled hunting opportunities, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife. The drawing dates and times are as follows:

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingsville gets it done

    In a rematch of a previous softball clash between the Kingsville 9-10-year-olds and those from Conneaut, Kingsville had settled thing quickly and decisively in a mercy-rule triumph.

    July 20, 2014

  • TD Club golf A Chris Larick column: TD Club hopes to score

    Though its life was never seriously threatened, the Ashtabula County Touchdown Club has suffered in recent years.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Don A Don McCormack column: A heartfelt plea to curb violence

    Like everyone who loves soccer — and the rest of us whose interest level rises dramatically every four years when the World Cup comes around — Kevin Meier was appalled at the recent attack of soccer referee John Bieniewicz in Michigan by a player that resulted in Bieniewicz tragically dying.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • valor A valiant effort

    Paralympians from all over the United States experienced three days of competition, education and fun during the Valor Games Gold Medal Camp at Spire this weekend.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Little League All-Stars July 1 to 12
AP NASCAR Lastest News
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings
AP Auto Racing Photos
West Side Shootout 2014
Ashtabula County at State Track Meet
Jefferson vs Akron St. Vincent St. Mary Regional Softball
District Track 2014
Jefferson District Softball Tournament
Bob Walters 50 Years
Geneva vs Perry Division II District Semifinal
Sports Week in Review May 12 to May 17
Sports Week in Review May 5 to May 10 2014
Sports Week in Review April 28 to May 3
Sports Video Archive
House Ads
AP Video