In terms of her development as a softball pitcher, Kali Sargent describes 2014 as a learning experience. And the year just seems to be getting better.
Sargent earned second-team all-region recognition this spring as a junior at Douglas High School and followed that with a successful summer season for the Reno Heat 16U team which is playing this weekend in Southern California at the Premier Girls National Championships.
The tournament begins Saturday in Huntington Beach and continues through July 25. Don Angotti, head coach for the Reno Heat, said the tournament will feature a blue chip field of 16-and-under age group players.
“We will be competing against the top 64 teams in the country,” said Angotti. “Our goal is to play the best competition, provide exposure to college coaches, and make our players the best softball players they can be.”
Sargent has compiled a 13-3 record with one save and a 2.93 earned run average. The right-hander has 70 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 81.1 innings of work.
“This has been a great summer,” Sargent said. “I’ve learned a lot this year, all the way around. I’d have to say I’ve learned a lot as far as gaining confidence in everything I do.”
The Heat 16U squad features players from Douglas, Spanish Springs, Reed, McQueen, Fernley, Galena, Bishop Manogue, Reno and Lassen (Susanville, Calif.) high schools. The team roster includes Sadaria McAlister, who was honored as Northern 4A Region Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore for McQueen this spring, and Alyssa Batastini, who was Pitcher of the Year as a junior for Spanish Springs. In 2013, Sargent was the Sierra League Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore.
“Kali has been a great addition for us both in the pitching circle and at the plate,” Angotti said of Sargent. “Kali came on board with us last fall and was instrumental in leading us to the USA Preps National Tournament 16U runner-up.
Sargent has also contributed with her play at first base and with her bat. She is hitting .266 with one home run and 13 RBI for the summer.
Sargent logged a key win against the Cal Nuggets at the recent Premier Girls Fastpitch National qualifier in Salinas, Calif. The Heat posted a 5-2 record in Salinas to qualify for the national tournament.
“She has a fantastic walk to strikeout ratio and can throw all of her pitches for strikes at any time in the count,” he added. “She has a positive attitude and has been a great teammate to all of the other girls.”
The tournament championship games will be played at Bill Barber Park’s Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine, Calif. The 16U final will be nationally televised on Fox Sports West Prime Ticket and Comcast. Angotti said close to 200 college coaches are expected to attend the national tournament.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Sargent said. “This (Reno Heat) is like a Northern Nevada all-star team. I’m really excited to see how we do against the top notch teams at nationals.”
Notes: Angotti formerly played for the Nevada Wolf Pack (1987-89) and later played and became a hitting/catcher instructor for the Houston Astros organization. He currently serves as principal for Grace Warner Elementary School in Washoe County. ... Sargent said she has gained from her work with Mike Duhart at the Unilimited Softball Academy of Fastpitch in Reno.