TAMWORTH’S U15 softball team is preparing for the state championships at Lismore next month but this weekend its sole focus is on winning a carnival on home turf.
The Tamworth Top Gun Tournament will be played in Tamworth for the first time this weekend and six teams are competing.
“It’s nice to have it in Tamworth,” Tamworth U15s coach Ash Castles said.
“It’s a long time since Tamworth has held it.
“But it will be an annual thing so it will be good for the association.
“This year is a teething year but it will get bigger and better.”
His U15s side has been steadily improving over the past few years.
With a few state championship campaigns now behind them, the girls are using this weekend’s event to warm up for what they hope will be a successful trip to Lismore.
“The nucleus of the team have played since under 12s,” Castles said.
“They played under 13s state last year and this year they’re going to under 15s state.
“So they’ve had about three years together.
“When they first went as under 12s we didn’t win a game.
“But last year we came third.
“This year we want to go better than third.”
The team is not new to the under 15s championships and several of the players in the side have represented at a higher level.
Yet the average age of the side is still only about 13.
“Emily Castles and Ashlee van Os made the Country NSW U15s and played at Rockhampton,” Ash Castles said.
“And Kiara and Monique Clare played for the Indigenous All Stars at Canberra.
“There’s two 14-year-olds, three or four 13s and the rest are 12.”
Joining Tamworth in the carnival this weekend is another local team, United.
It is an even younger Tamworth-based team.
Visiting sides have come from Tweed Heads, Lismore, Orange and Manly-Warringah.
The plan is to make it a regular event and encourage more local kids to give the sport a go.
“Softball is still struggling as a sport,” Castles said. “But it’s one of the cheapest for girls and boys.
“They’re really starting to promote it now.”
Games get underway this morning, with all six teams playing against each other over two days.