by Kyle Koso
WESTMINSTER, Colo. – For the 60-plus athletes who took the field Tuesday night at the Colorado 4th of July Unsigned Player Workout, there was no shortage of reasons to be optimistic.
First of all, dozens of college coaches were in motion at the Christopher Complex, all interested in assembling an answer for their lineups for this fall or perhaps 2020, hoping to see that solution pop up in the workout with a quality swing of the bat, or an impressive defensive play.
And, ultimately, the players on hand could simply take comfort in their own abilities. There are a million reasons why some players reach a college roster late in the process – injuries, late bloomers, unfortunate slumps – but the tempo and skill level on display Tuesday just proved the point that there is a lot of ability percolating down through youth softball.
“Today was about coming out here, showing my skills to the college coaches – at the moment I’m not currently committed, but I have offers from schools,” said Skylar Sabetta, 17, who plays for the Stealth out of Lancaster, Calif. “I want to play at the highest level possible, and if I can get to Division I, that’s exactly where I want to be. I’m trying to play hard and work my way up.”
Sabetta had a few solid swings during the batting portion, but she really stood out with her confident glovework and strong throwing arm, while also blitzing around the bases during speed drills. Crucially, she didn’t let a big day get too big for her emotions.
“One of the best things I try to do is to control my mind, and not let my mind control me. Positive self-talk … all the time. It helps a lot,” Sabetta said. “I try not to dwell on the negative things that happen. My offense was a little slow today, but defensively I was pretty strong and on my ‘A’ game.”
Authoring some very powerful swings during the three-hour workout was Kallieah Richerson-Cook, 17, who plays for Universal fastpitch out of Martinez, Calif. The left-hander left the yard on a couple at-bats, and also made strong throws from her spot in the outfield.
“I’m looking at going to college, and was hoping to perform well. Thankfully, I put a few out that helped me, and I got some schools looking at me, which is amazing,” Richerson-Cook said. “I’m hoping things work out.
“I was just myself with everyone – vocal, communicative, making friends with the coaches and players, putting myself out there no matter what. It’s the competition. I love watching people compete and going out there myself. It helps me become a better person and a better player.”
Deals will get done at the Colorado 4th of July event; you might even see signatures for scholarship offers happen on the hoods of cars in the parking lot. That’s why coaches work the event so hard, from daytime pool play games to these special workouts that fill up the evening hours.
“A kid earlier today caught my attention; she was on the field next to the one I was at, where I was watching another kid. She told me she was at this, so I wanted to watch some more,” said Trine University (Angola, Ind.) assistant coach Brittney Harvey. “It’s such a market that these kids are part of, and they travel a lot, and sometimes they just don’t get an opportunity to be seen. This offers a great opportunity, with coaches standing around, to get them closer to where they ant to be for their academic future.
“We recruit intentionally, looking for the right pieces to come help us out, and to make an impact. I’m excited, and very happy with what I’ve seen.”