MOUNT CARMEL — The USSSA Great Lakes National Softball Tournament hosted in Southern Indiana is the premiere showcase for USSSA softball in the Midwest.
The tournament, which begins on July 14 in Evansville, Ind., has games hosted at Deaconess Park in Evansville and fields in both Newburgh and Boonville as well with nearly 100 competing teams coming from across the Midwest.
And for the second straight year, Wabash Mission will be embarking on the hour commute to compete against the best programs from Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
All but one Wabash Mission team will be making the trip — Mission 11 (8U), Mission 09 (10U), Mission 07 (12U), and Mission 05 (14U). The sole exception being the program’s 16U group. But let’s take a look at each Mission group making the trip down, and how they’re faring this summer.
Mission 11The 8U group is scheduled to debut on Wednesday, and are currently ranked as the seventh rated team in the state of Illinois 8U C-class. Their Great Lakes Nationals schedule:
Wednesday, July 15 — Wabash Mission 11 vs. Team Indiana Impact at Warrick Sports Complex in Boonville, Ind. — 9:30 a.m.; Wabash Mission 11 vs. Indiana Magic at Warrick Sports Complex in Boonville, Ind. — 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, July 16 — Mission 11 vs. Kentucky Lightning at Warrick Sports Complex in Boonville, Ind. — 11:00 a.m.; Mission 11 vs. Southern Indiana Crash — 3:30 p.m.
Mission 09Wabash Mission 09 — which competes in the 10U C Division in USSSA — has posted an 8-2 record this summer and rank No. 18 in the nation according to USSSA. They’re one of just two Illinois squads on the list, the other being the Z20 Bombers 09 based in Nashville, Ill., who rank No. 7 in the top 25.
Thus far they’ve finished second in three tournaments this summer, the 12th Annual Santa Claus Classic, the Tri-State Championship in Rockport (was a B-class tournament), and the Tri-State C Class Championship in late-June.
Mission 09 advanced to the championship in each of the three tournaments, but lost 10-6 to the Indiana Firestix in the Santa Claus Classic, and received second place by default in the latter two tournaments due to lightning cancellations.
With hopefully a clear forecast, they’ll have high expectations for the week, seeking to secure their first first-place finish of the summer on the highest stage.
They’ll begin tournament play on Wednesday. Their Great Lakes Nationals schedule:
Wednesday, July 15 — Wabash Mission 09 vs. South Gibson Heat at Boonville Youth Park’s Warrick Sports Complex, Field C — 2 p.m.; Wabash Mission 09 vs. Aftershock 2010 at Boonville Youth Park’s Warrick Sports Complex, Field C — 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 16 — Wabash Mission 09 vs. KP Fire 09 at Boonville Youth Park’s Warrick Sports Complex, Field C — 6:30 p.m.
As successful as Mission 09 has been, Mission 07, the 12U group, has enjoyed some pretty incredible success as well.
They’ve posted a 24-5 record to date, having won the Wabash Mission Season of Thanks tournament last fall and the USSSA Battle for the Rings in Petersburg, Ind.
They currently rank No. 86 in the nation and second in the state of Illinois in the 12U C-Class Division.
Gabby Hoke, Mission’s pitcher, tossed a no-hitter at the Great Lakes Tournament last year as a member of the 10U group, and could be poised for another strong tournament. Their USSSA Great Lakes schedule:
Wednesday, July 15 — Wabash Mission 07 vs. Legacy Fastpitch 08 (OH) at Newburgh Sports Complex, NEW4 — 5 p.m.; Wabash Mission 07 vs. Legacy 07 (OH) at Newburgh Sports Complex, NEW4 — 6:30 p.m.
Mission 05Mission 05 was extremely competitive last year in Evansville, and will be looking to replicate a similar level of that success next week.
They’ve posted a 13-8 record to date, including a third-place finish at the Robinson Firecracker Tournament last weekend. Possibly the highlight of their season to date came in the Robinson Tournament, when the group battled back from a 7-1 deficit to secure a dramatic 8-7 victory over Indiana Outkast. Libby Horton crushed a monster three-run walk-off homer to secure the comeback victory for Mission 05.
Horton has been a key cog in their success thus far, having recorded eight home runs and 27 RBIs in 45 at bats. Carli Merritt has also been an incredibly reliable bat, having posted a team-high .571 batting average. Their pitching is led by their ace Rachel Gill, who’s recorded 49 strikeouts in just under 60 innings pitched. Gill’s posted an efficient 3.5 K/BB ratio. Their USSSA Great Lakes schedule:
Wednesday, July 15 — Wabash Mission 05 vs. Thunder 05 (Ind.) at Deaconess Sports Park Red 6 — 2 p.m.; Wabash Mission 05 vs. S.I. Aftershock (Ill.) at Deaconess Sports Park Red 5 — 6:30 p.m.
Mission 03The oldest (and newest) group won’t be making the trip down to Evansville, but they pieced together a 5-1 finish over the holiday weekend, with their sole loss coming at the hands of an 18U team. Livi Stinson was arguably their top bat for the weekend, having posted a .438 batting clip, along with five runs scored and three RBIs in the six-game stretch.
We’ll continue to update the schedules for each Mission team through the course of the week, and will be providing coverage for as many games as possible. See the Register’s Facebook page for all updates.