By Ray Hamill — Youth softball took center stage at the Arcata Sports Complex over the weekend with a series of friendlies involving the Mad River MIST and a number of teams from out of the area.
A total of 10 teams played close to 20 games over the two days, which served as a perfect way to set up the five MIST squads for the summer season.
“I would say it was a success,” MIST president Kelly Helms said. “We had tons of people, all the games ran smoothly, it was a really good two days.”
The MIST has played a big role in helping to develop the game here in Humboldt County in recent years, a growth that can be seen in the local high schools, with the Humboldt-Del Norte League winning three of the six North Coast Section titles this past spring, a remarkable achievement for a league that makes up roughly six percent of the entire section.
This summer the local program is fielding five teams, one each at 10U, 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U, and all five were in action over the weekend.
Numbers are up too, with 22 players on the 16U roster, almost enough to field two teams.
Also in action over the weekend, two teams traveled from Siskiyous, as well as a team from Hoopa and one from Del Norte.
The MIST alumni were also on hand.
Helms admits it’s difficult to get teams to travel to the North Coast to play tournaments, when most of these teams have options a lot closer to home, but says she is working on bringing more games to the area.
A team from Redding, C4, will travel with two teams to play a triple-header of games against the MIST 18U and 16U teams on July 6 at the Arcata Sports Complex.
Helms is also working on hosting an official All-Star tournament here.
For now, however, like many local travel teams in every sport, travel is a big part of the season.
The MIST teams are scheduled to play a pair of tournaments in each of the next two months, while three of the program’s teams will also travel this weekend, with the 10U playing at Manteca, the 16U at Fremont and the 18U at Galt.
The 18U team, which features several local high school all-stars, won both of its games over the weekend, getting the better of the Siskiyous Jaxx 7-0 on Saturday and defeating the MIST alumni 10-6 on Sunday.
According to the coaches, it was a good tune-up for the team’s opening road trip this coming weekend.
Arcata ace Makayla Bernald pitched a complete game one-hitter in Saturday’s win, while striking out four.
A pair of McKinleyville stars, Jaycee Morais and Lexi White, each had two hits in the win, while Eureka’s Sadie Hampton had a double and two RBIs, while also making three outstanding defensive catches in center field.
A total of 24 teams will compete in the Galt tournament, a prestigious event that serves as the state tournament.
Last summer, the MIST girls placed second there.