The Chaos/Breakaway Sportswear girls slow-pitch softball team likes to challenge itself.
Winners of two state titles in four years together, the Andover, Minn.-based 19-and-under squad is making its second consecutive trip out of area for USSSA World Youth Slow-Pitch competition this weekend at Guy Leeder Complex.
“Back home we play tournaments every chance we get,” said Cole Hudek, one of three co-coaches on the squad. “We played nationals last year in Mississippi, and we wanted to come and try this one.”
It’s the only team out of 43 entries not from the eastern New Mexico/west Texas area. Andover, a city of around 15,000, is located north of the Twin Cities.
“We’ve won state twice and took third once,” Hudek said. “This is a good group of girls. They’ve known each other for years and they all played against each other as little girls. We just finally decided to put them together.”
Chaos won its two pool games handily, although the second one got a little dicey. A 24-9 lead heading into the final half-inning before time expired turned into a 24-20 win over the Clovis Lady Xplosions.
“We just get too excited,” said outfielder Allie Hall, who turned 18 on Friday. “We just think about it too much, and that’s what happens.”
Seeded second out of six teams in bracket play, Chaos came back on Saturday night with a 15-0 win over the Lady Explosions. Finals are scheduled for this afternoon.
The girls enjoy playing, but noted that Minnesota’s early and often harsh winters don’t allow for a long season.
“It’s fun; l like it,” said second baseman Allie Bachler, 19, whose father, Dan, also coaches the team along with Bob Sohns. “In Minnesota, the competition isn’t as good as I’d like it. It’s good to see different teams.”
Hudek said the girls had the option of either funding the trip to New Mexico themselves or selling pizzas to raise money. While Bachler opted not to sell pizzas, Hall said she raised around $300.
“I like meeting new people and seeing other teams play,” said Hall, who played basketball and lacrosse in high school and will play basketball at a community college near her home next year. “We always play the same teams back home.”
By stepping outside its comfort zone, the team is able to measure itself against the competition.
“It’s a lot different because (teams here can) play year-round,” Hall said.
Bachler, the only member of the team in her last year of eligibility, estimated the cost of the trip at between $1,000 and $1,500. A few players flew into Lubbock, but she and many others made the roughly 18-hour trip by car.
“I took a plane,” she said. “I drove last year to Mississippi, so I’d already had that experience.”