Summer softball evolves into college showcase opportunity, chance to expand playing network

Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 28, 2022

The summer is not typically known as softball season. But for the diehards, select softball exposes high school players to a new level of competition and more chances for college scouting.

Select and AAU sports have seen a jump in growth over the past few decades. Port Neches Groves Head Coach Taylor Harvill said approximately 90 percent of her players participate in select softball.

“It is very beneficial because they get to see all types of talent,” Harvill said. “Most of them travel to Houston to play. Some of them have been to Oklahoma and Colorado. I have some in Alabama right now playing in a tournament. They get to learn more and play against the top talent in the nation.”

Shortstop Vivien Thames has played with the Texas Dirt Divas for several years. She said the experience helps her on and off the field.

“Going to all these different cities has let me grow,” she said. “As a person and on the field, I’ve matured, as well.”

While summer leagues are fun, Thames said the ultimate goal is to improve her game for the upcoming high school softball season.

“Hitting is always a big thing I’m striving to get better at,” she said. “Select has always been part of my life, so I’ve never really noticed how active it keeps me. But the practice and the drive to want more out of the game keeps me in shape.”

Harvill started playing select softball when she was in middle school, adding many players are starting at a much younger age.

“They are getting a lot of reps,” she said. “That is how you get recruited these days, too… There are a bunch of showcases they go to where they will have a camp before a tournament starts. They will bring in a bunch of college coaches to look at them. If those coaches see players they are interested in, they go and watch them in the tournament.”

Thames said playing with friends she has made over several years makes the experience more enjoyable.

“Having these girls I’ve played with being right there with me during it makes it not so much about keeping in shape,” Thames said. “It is more about just doing what I have to do to continue doing what I love.”

Thames views playing for a select team and playing for PNG the same with slightly different motivations.

“For high school, I’m playing for the name of my school and my city,” she said. “But in select, I’m playing for the girls. With select if we win the game, we get closer to seeing more coaches and getting our name out there. With school, we are winning for a title. We’re winning for the chance to give it back to our school and the program.”

— By Chris Moore