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Benton, Ovens play in all-star game
August 12, 2012Crook County High School
Jena Ovens and Emily Benton love the game of softball.
The Crook County High School juniors love the game so much that they play every opportunity they can get.
Not only do Benton and Ovens play on the CCHS softball team, the duo also play on a traveling team during the summer. So when the pair had an opportunity to go to a softball camp and try out to compete in an all-star tournament the pair jumped at the chance.
“We went to a camp in Bend to try out,” Benton said. “We did SPARQ testing (Speed, power, agility, reaction, and quickness) and skill testing and then we played in a tournament in Washington.”
SPARQ testing is a program designed by Nike in 2004 that is intended to measure sport specific athletic ability.
Athletes are tested in the 40-yard dash, kneeling power ball toss, agility shuttle, an intermittent recovery test, and vertical jump with points assigned on a sliding scale for each test.
Ovens and Benton made the cut and were placed on a team to represent Central Oregon at the tournament.
“I have been playing with most of the girls on that team all summer,” Ovens said. “The other girls on the team I had either played against or at one point played on a team with them, so we knew how each other played.”
Once at the tournament, which took place July 23-26 in Centralia, Wash., the Central Oregon team took advantage of that familiarity to finish in second place. The squad went 4-1 during the four-day event, finally falling to the Oregon All-Stars in the tournament Championship.
“The Oregon team that beat us wasn’t really just an Oregon team,” Benton said. “They had players from Oregon, but they had some players from Washington, Idaho, and Canada too. They were really from all over the northwest.”
The purpose of Fastpitch Northwest is to help girls improve their softball skills with the ultimate goal of helping players continue to play beyond high school.
To that end the qualifying camps and the time spent at the Fastpitch Northwest Tournament place a high emphasis on skill analysis.
Players are evaluated both for their athletic potential and their skill level fielding and hitting. Once at the Fastpitch Northwest Tournament, the players are exposed to college scouts, who closely monitor each of the games.
“I had so much fun,” Ovens said. “I have been exposed to some of the top players in the Northwest, and the competition is intense. I learned that you must be on your game at all times or you will fall behind.”
Benton agreed that the camp was beneficial.
“They gave you a lot of skills,” she said. “They told me that my hands weren’t very fast when I hit and taught me how to load better — and it worked. I hit really well at the camp.”
Benton played right field during the tournament, while Ovens played both shortstop and second base. Both players agreed that the camp and tournament were a good experience and are planning to participate again next year.
“This is something I will do again next year to help me get looked at by colleges,” Ovens said. “The best thing about this tournament was it really tested your ability to compete with the best. It pushes you to be a better player. I enjoyed meeting a ton of new people and getting the chance to play on a team with such great and very talented girls.”