A star-studded roster of high school softball players took to the perfectly-manicured fields of Tucson’s Lincoln Park on a picturesque evening last Thursday.
The young women, who hailed from the many nooks and crannies of Southern Arizona, took part in the Kino League’s inaugural softball all-star game.
The event, which included two senior contests and two games featuring underclassmen players, exhibited the plethora of talent that can be found on a softball diamond at any Tucson area program. The exhibition, which included four simultaneous games on the park’s adjacent fields, served as a victory lap of sorts for this year’s class of seniors.
It also served as an introduction for the rising stars that were playing in the underclassmen games.
The final scores of last Thursday’s escapades were relatively irrelevant to all involved, with an impetus placed on fun over competition.
Ramon De La Ossa, who helped coach one of the four teams involved in the all-star festivities, touched on the importance of having exhibitions like this for local softball players.
The key, according to the second-year Mountain View coach, is to allow the many talented players in the area to show off their skills in a laidback environment.
“It’s just a great atmosphere and it’s just fun,” he said. “The girls get to showcase what they can do. There are no intentional walks, there’s no bunting if they don’t want to. And it’s just a great way to showcase their talent, and kind of send them off to the next level. It’s an amazing event.”
De La Ossa, who helped coach one of two senior all-star squads, said the inclusion of players who just wrapped up their high school careers is crucial.
“Hopefully this is icing on the cake for them,” he said. “They’ve all had great careers. There are no weak spots out there. Every batter out there is an all-star.”
One of the seniors that played for De La Ossa’s squad was Ironwood Ridge High School shortstop Diana Nisbett.
Nisbett, who was a crucial component of the Nighthawks’ state championship team this spring, touched on how important the exhibition is for players, parents and coaches alike.
“It means so much to be involved with this, because I get to play with so many girls that I played against,” Nisbett said. “And then being selected for it, it’s just such an honor.”
De La Ossa believes this year’s all-star game, which was sponsored by the local Kino League—a local Babe Ruth League baseball and softball organization that runs leagues for players age 10-25—will only improve with time.
The second-year Mountain View skipper believes the softball exhibition can continue to grow in the future, with a revolving door of talent at various programs in the area.
“I’m just looking to make it bigger and better next year,” he said. “I know we’re going to grow in numbers, with so many talented players down here. I think it will be even better when we get a little more participation. But by all means, this will be great.”